Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Real Madrid knocked out of Copa del Rey by Leganes after fielding weakened team at the Bernabeu

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Real Madrid knocked out of Copa del Rey by Leganes after fielding weakened team at the Bernabeu

Zinedine Zidane won’t sleep easy tonight.

Real Madrid have been eliminated from the Copa del Rey after losing the second leg of their quarter-final against Leganes 2-1 at the Bernabeu.

Los Blancos took a slender 1-0 lead into the game but were overwhelming favourites to progress to the semi-finals before kick-off.

A night to forgetJUAN MEDINA

However, Javier Eraso’s 25-yard strike after half an hour was the catalyst for an historic win for the visitors.

The 27-year-old midfielder took advantage of some shambolic defending from Achraf Hakimi and Nacho to open the scoring and level the tie.

Karim Benzema put Real back in the ascendancy with a neat chipped finish from a tight angle in the opening exchanges of the second half.

But seven minutes later, Leganes took the lead again, as Gabriel’s emphatic header from an out-swinging corner left Kiko Casilla with no chance.

Full credit to Leganes for reaching the semi-finalsEPA

The goal made the tie 2-2 with Leganes leading on away goals.

And that’s how it remained until the final whistle as Asier Garitano’s men survived a late onslaught from the hosts.

Questions will undoubtedly be asked of Zidane’s team selection.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale weren’t even named in the squad while first-team regulars Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Luka Modric and Casemiro all started on the bench.

Ronaldo’s cut was evident in trainingGetty - Contributor

The starting XI contained plenty of world-class talent of course — this is Real Madrid after all.

But Isco, Marco Asensio, Benzema and Sergio Ramos could not prevent a devastating upset.

Given that Real’s hopes of retaining the league title are all but over, you would have thought the Copa del Rey represented the club’s best chance of further silverware this season.

Real’s season is slipping away from themJUAN MEDINA

Ronaldo and Bale’s absences now seem extremely presumptuous on Zizou’s part.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner suffered a nasty cut to his face in Real’s 7-1 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend but it’s unlikely that would have ruled him out through injury.

Real are specialists in Europe but a round of 16 tie against free-scoring PSG represents a significant blockade to further Champions League success.

Given their relatively poor form, it’s now unlikely the club will add to their trophy cabinet until at least next season.

Leganes are 13th in La LigaEPA

Real Madrid don’t have much of a recent history when it comes to sticking by managers in tough times.

Surely even the great Zizou is under threat of the chop from executioner-in-chief Florentino Perez?

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