Under-fire Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane told reporters to ask his players if they believed in him after their stunning cup exit to third-tier hosts, as the likes of Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema failed to prevent a huge upset.
Disbelieving fans turned on Zidane on social media after the Spanish giants crashed out of the Copa del Rey in dramatic fashion at numerically disadvantaged Alcoyano, who play in the Segunda Division B.
Supporters and experts had already been stunned by the underdogs’ equalizer with 10 minutes of normal time remaining, only for the lowly home side – who were reduced to 10 men when they had a man sent off – to score the winner five minutes from the end of extra time.
Hazard, who has been massively underwhelming since arriving from Chelsea for a fee that could rise to $206 million, was introduced to no avail as a substitute, and top scorer Benzema also failed to find the net after coming off the bench.
Real Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by third-division side Alcoyano. Zidane's job hits another snag
— SEGRO©🌪️ (@___jo21) January 21, 2021
Even Zidane was laughing 😂😂😂🤣🤣. Like he couldn't believe his eyes😂😂😂🙄 https://t.co/UttRtx9tvG
— AbdulGaniyu (@001Legendary) January 20, 2021
Zidane after Alcoyano scored their second pic.twitter.com/F420qN6rNG
— Real Madrid Analysis (@rmdanalysis) January 20, 2021
Despite winning the Champions League three times as Madrid boss, Zidane has never come close to winning the domestic cup, leading to accusations that he does not treat the competition seriously.
The manner of the defeat, coming in a season when his side have lost to Shakhtar Donetsk twice in the Champions League and are four points off Liga leaders Atletico having played two games more, has intensified the pressure on the France legend.
Zidane was seen smiling as Alcoyano scored their second and defended his players afterwards. “I am the coach, the responsibility is mine and I am going to assume it,” he responded.
Zidane dropped a small smirk after Alcoyano scored the winner over Madrid 👀 pic.twitter.com/HVp9hmnyyY
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 20, 2021
I told before the game that Zidane should end this season & resign. I still have the same opinion. Noone is avaliable right now & after the end of season we will evaluate our options.
— R. (@madridreigns) January 21, 2021
Exactly. Under Zidane I just see a team that's not well coached. Under Zidane we play HOPEFUL football. All we do most times is to cross and nod.
— VERSATILE (@Israel_Tallest) January 21, 2021
“The players have tried. The responsibility is mine. It is difficult because we play against a Segunda B side and we have to win the game.
“It’s not a shame, nothing like that. These are things that happen. We don’t like to lose, we’re not going to go crazy.
“We will think and we will continue working. I think the players believe in me, you have to ask them.”
📃 The decision about Zidane's future will come at the end of the season, but neither Zidane is considering dismissal, nor will the management make a decision about it. Now in the team, everything indicates a complete loss of confidence in Zidane's speech. #rmlive 🇪🇸
— MARCA pic.twitter.com/JjxlrDdR78
— Los Blancos Live (@blancoslive) January 21, 2021
When Covid restrictions ease Lampard and Zidane can book a lads holiday.
— ManxRam (@manx_ram) January 21, 2021
Don't think of it as Zinedine Zidane. Don't think of his history. Think of it as the person that is currently managing Real Madrid.
If this continues, no one deserves to stay as the manager of this club, regardless of the name.
But when the time comes, it'll still hurt. pic.twitter.com/42c4ibTwgU
— Allu (@GreatWhite_9) January 20, 2021
Madrid lost to Athletic Club in the Supercopa Espana last week and have won one of their last five matches.
“We worked, we tried,” claimed Zidane. “Apart from the last games, we have played good games this season.
“Now we have to concentrate on the league and the Champions League. When you lose, things are always talked about.
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“I take responsibility and what will happen will happen. When we are on the field we try to win the game, but sometimes different things happen.”
A trip to Alaves, who are a place and a point above the relegation zone, looks like an ideal opportunity to win a first away match in four when Madrid return to Liga action on Saturday.
“Think of it as the person who is currently managing Real Madrid,” said one fan, encouraging others not to be swayed by Zidane’s remarkable record of success at the club.
“If this continues, no-one deserves to stay as manager of the club – regardless of the name.”
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