Copa del Rey final: Athletic and La Real fans see off their teams
Real Madrid’s LaLiga campaign got off to a stuttering start. Rafa Benítez’s first competitive fixture in charge of the club ended in a scoreless draw in El Molinón. Ronaldo and co. registered 22 shots against Sporting Gijon but couldn’t make any of them count.
Benítez and Zidane were both unable to beat Málaga. Real Madrid could only take two points in their two run ins with the Anchovies. In the first game, in the Spanish capital, Carlos Kameni withstood 31 shots without shipping a single goal. When the teams reconvened at La Rosaleda, the Cameroonian keeper was in inspired form once again and the match ended 1-1.
Los Merengues managed to turn things around after the setback in Asturias and climb into first place for a short spell of time. However, that all came to an end in November. Firstly, Zizou’s charges were beaten 3-2 at the Sánchez Pizjuán and subsequently knocked off top spot by Barça. The international break that followed devastated Madrid’s squad but that still didn’t explain what came next in the Clásico. The terraces at the Bernabéu looked on aghast as Barcelona ran riot against Benítez’s men and recorded a comprehensive 0-4 win.
Los Verdiblancos didn't get the memo about the 'Zidane Effect'. After getting the fans on side with two convincing wins at the Bernabéu, Zizou travelled to Seville for his first away game in the Real Madrid hot seat. Los Blancos really struggled to get going at the Benito Villamarín and went behind to a stunning Cejudo goal. The match ended 1-1, a result that put Zidane's appointment into question for the first time.
The derby clash with Atlético marked a turning point. Madrid went into that encounter trailing Barça by nine points and were in direct competition with Diego Simeone’s team for second place. Atleti ran out 0-1 winners at the Bernabéu after rendering Zidane’s team completely ineffective. The Frenchman conceded that “LaLiga is over” following the result, and while Los Blancos went on to win their remaining twelve games, he was right.
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