This year has not started well for Real Madrid.
The Spanish giant was booted out of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday after a humiliating defeat to third-division club Alcoyano.
Zinedine Zidane’s side had taken the lead through Eder Militao late in the first half but was forced into extra time by a late goal from Jose Solbes.
Incredibly, the minnows even had a player sent off before Juanan volleyed home from close range to secure a famous win for the Segunda Division B outfit.
Spanish newspaper AS called Wednesday’s match “one of the most red-faced pages of its [Madrid’s] history.”
Speaking after the match, Zidane took responsibility for the defeat but rubbished claims the result was an embarrassment.
“It’s not an embarrassment, it’s something that can always happen in football,” he told reporters.
“Something like this can happen in a footballer’s career but I take responsibility for it and we’ll keep on working. We’re not going to go crazy over this.”
Zidane had made multiple changes to his starting lineup but threw on a host of world-class substitutions in order to save the game late on.
But even the likes of Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema couldn’t save the day as Madrid was left reflecting on its worst cup result since losing to the then third-division side Alcorcon in 2009.
“You should always dream big, we worked our socks off and suffered a lot,” said Alcoyano keeper Jose Juan after the match.
‘I’m very relaxed’
The defeat has compounded yet more misery on Los Blancos, who have now only won once in their last five games in all competitions, as pressure continues to mount on Zidane.
AS editor-in-chief Tomas Roncero wrote: “2021 should end now. This is a nightmare. The flower of Zidane has withered away forever.”
However, the Frenchman says he feels relaxed about his position at the club.
He guided his team to the La Liga title last season and now sits second in the league, albeit four points behind local rival Atletico having played two games more.
“When you lose, people always talk about that but I take responsibility and whatever will be will be. I’m very relaxed, our players want to win every game, they always try to but sometimes something else happens. You have to deal with it,” Zidane added.
“We’ve been playing well, a little bit less recently, but apart from the last couple of games we’ve done things well this season and we need to remember what we’re capable of.”
Zidane is also having to deal with a tricky contract situation with captain and club legend Sergio Ramos.
The defender, who did not play on Wednesday through injury, is out of contract at the end of the season and has attracted attention from clubs around Europe.
The Spaniard has made 668 appearances for Los Blancos and has guided the team to multiple silverware in his incredible career. At a time like this, can Zidane really afford to lose his captain as well?