Zinedine Zidane’s future at Real Madrid is once again put into question, following the team’s embarrassing defeat at the hands (and legs) of their neighbors Leganes. The defeat sees the Champions League holders eliminated from the Copa del Rey.
The defeat adds insult to injury on what is turning out to be a disastrous season for Real Madrid. The side’s chances to retain the La Liga trophy are nearly null. Their star players have largely been shadows of their last season’s former selves. And last night, they were unceremoniously knocked out of the Spanish Cup.
The team to inflict the defeat on Real, are their Madrid neighbors Leganes. It’s a surprising result, no doubt one that was not helped by Zinedine Zidane’s decision to sideline some of the team’s best players. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were benched. Zidane seemed to underestimate Leganes and was punished.
Consistent results are the only things that will keep a manager in charge of Real. Zidane has provided them in the previous two seasons. Failure to meet the same standard could result in the Frenchman losing his job. For now, at least, the manager still seems to have the full support of his players. Team captain Sergio Ramos confirmed. “I’m not a big fan of changes. We are the first ones to stand up for Zidane.”
Real’s only chance for silverware this season remains the Champions League. The team has been able to retain the prestigious trophy for the last two seasons. They will play Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 of the competition. Their adversaries have not shied away from significant investments. The recent purchase of Neymar, for a historic transfer fee, makes them one of the most difficult opponents Real could have faced. Zidane knows that his job security hinges on the result against the Ligue 1 champions.
“I am responsible for this, I’m the coach. So I must find solutions. I must take on the situation. I will keep always fighting, keep working, try and look for things to make the team better. Nothing more. I don’t regret leaving out players. Some players needed to rest. On paper this was a competitive team, then in the first half no, we did not compete,” Zidane went on to say.
At the outer region of Madrid, it’s an opportunity for celebration for Leganes and a rare victory. Few would have expected the team from the outskirts of Madrid to knock Real out of the competition. It was a scenario unlikely dreamed of by the team’s most ardent fans. It’s hard to imagine the team could go all the way and win the competition. However, it’s certainly a historic result.
For Real Madrid, it’s back to the drawing board. Zidane must know work to salvage what he can of the current season. The team’s most famous players will be expected to make an important contribution. The team can now focus exclusively on the Champions League. Winning the trophy for the third time in a row would certainly save the season in the eyes of most fans.