Zidane feels the heat after Real flops again

AFP
Real Madrid crashes to a humiliating Copa del Rey exit when it was knocked out by little Leganes in the quarterfinals with under-fire coach Zinedine Zidane taking the blame.
AFP
Reuters

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane pictured before the Copa del Rey match against Leganes on Wednesday. 

Real Madrid’s troubled season lurched further into crisis as coach Zinedine Zidane described its elimination from the Cope del Rey by humble neighbor Leganes as a “fiasco.”

It is almost a year ago to the day that Madrid’s record 40-game unbeaten run in all competitions ended as it swept all before it, but this season has been a tale of woe for the La Liga and European champion.

“It’s a fiasco. My worst moment as a coach,” Zidane told a news conference on Wednesday. “I don’t regret anything I did in the game, though. I take responsibility for what I do. Winning 1-0 from the first leg to start tonight’s tie in the manner we did it’s really bad. For that I’m angry. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

Real, which lost 1-2 to Leganes to exit the competition on away goals, has slipped to fourth in the La Liga standing, trailing leader and arch-rival Barcelona by 19 points.

“I am responsible for all of this. It’s a failure for me,” said Zidane who recently penned a contract extension until 2020.

Admitting that it had been his worst night as a coach, the Frenchman added: “It’s a logical result, our opponents played their match and we did not.

“It is a big blow. We did what we had to do in the first leg. Nobody expected this, especially me but this is football. 

“I am the manager. I picked the team and I was wrong in many regards. It’s up to me to find the solutions. I will continue to fight, to work, to battle and to find the things the team needs.”

Javi Eraso gave Leganes a 32nd-minute lead with a spectacular curling shot from long range.

Karim Benzema levelled after 47 minutes but Leganes’ Brazilian striker Gabriel Pires then hit the winner with a firm header eight minutes later.

The fans let their feelings known by booing off the team at half-time.

Leganes has a budget of just 45 million euros — 15 times less than the 675 million euros commanded by mighty Real.

In the night’s other game, Valencia made the semifinals but needed a 3-2 penalty shoot-out to defeat Alaves, which won 2-1 for a 3-3 aggregate. 

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