Madrid, Thursday @PeopleSports11
How quickly things can change. Real Madrid were on cloud nine after beating Gremio to claim the Club World Cup in mid-December, as they ended 2017 with a club record five trophies. Just a few weeks later, however, their season hangs very much in the balance.
Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to Leganes in the Copa del Rey saw Zinedine Zidane’s side crash out of the Copa del Rey on away goals at the quarter-final stage and represents the latest embarrassment in an increasingly calamitous campaign.
Already 19 points behind fierce rivals Barcelona in La Liga, the cup competition was considered a priority by Los Blancos, but it is over before some senior players (such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo) had even made an appearance.
All Madrid needed to do was to avoid defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, after Marco Asensio’s late winner at Butarque last week, but even that proved too much to ask as goals from Javier Eraso and Gabriel cancelled out Karim Benzema’s equaliser.
So, the thrill of those five trophies in 2017 has rapidly evaporated and, after the match, Zidane was asked if this was the worst season in Real Madrid’s history.
“I don’t know if this is the worst. It doesn’t matter to me. I have to be positive. It’s a very hard blow for us, but the season is not over for us,” he replied.
It is not, but it could be soon. All that is left now for Zidane’s side to play for in terms of silverware is the Champions League and although Los Blancos have won that competition for the past two seasons, this time they face the might of Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.
The free-scoring French side have already netted over 100 times this term in all competitions and although they lost to Lyon in Ligue 1 last weekend, they still lead the championship by eight points.
Furthermore, in Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, they possess Europe’s most exciting attack. Asked if he will be fighting for his future in the two-legged tie (on February 14 in Madrid and March 6 in Paris), Zidane said: “That is clear. I’m the one who is responsible for this and I’m the one who has to find solutions.” -GOAL