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MADRID, Jan 21 — Zinedine Zidane insisted his players still believe in him after Real Madrid suffered an embarrassing defeat by third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
La Liga’s reigning champions lost 2-1 to Alcoyano, who scored a remarkable winner in extra-time after having a man sent off.
Real Madrid have now won only once in their last five games, with an extraordinary loss heaping more pressure on Zidane.
Asked if he still had the backing of the players, Zidane said: “Yes I believe so, you have to ask them. We’ve done good things this season, apart from the last four games. Now we have La Liga and the Champions League and we have to work. Whether my message gets through, you have to ask them, I can’t answer that.”
Zidane took responsibility for the defeat.
“I’m the coach, it’s my fault,” he said. “I am responsible, the players have tried but well, we’re out.”
Zidane rotated his starting line-up but a team that included the likes of Marcelo, Isco, Casemiro and Vinicius Junior should have had enough to beat opponents sitting fourth in their division in Segunda B.
And when Zidane threw on the likes of Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos as substitutes to put the game to bed, the opposite happened, as Alcoyano, a man down, scored the winner, Juanan diverting in at the near post to pull off an incredible upset.
Alcoyano have not graced Spain’s top flight since 1951 and their El Collao stadium holds less than 5,000 spectators. The only shame here was their fans were not able to see it. — AFP