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Is this the beginning of the end for Zidane?


It goes without saying that Zidane, for all he has achieved during the two years he's spent at the helm, makes him one of the greatest coaches Real Madrid have ever had. No one can dispute his trajectory since taking charge of the team in January 2016 but last night’s elimination from the Copa del Rey to Leganés doesn’t just increase the scrutiny he's under – it also gives the sensation that he could be reaching the end of the road with Los Blancos. Zizou will continue to faithfully protect his players right up until the bitter end but he also has to be more consistent with his decisions and take responsibility for his actions. Whether it’s directly his fault or not, many of Madrid’s fringe players will be marked for life by last night’s defeat and that is hugely unfair – it is not right to pile the responsibility on players who rarely get a fair crack of the whip and hardly ever get a chance to play and point the finger at them for the sorry image the team gave in both legs against Leganés.

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League ambitions over, Europe a tall order

With their ambitions to retain the league title in tatters and the daunting task of taking on runaway Ligue 1 leaders PSG in the Champions League, the Copa del Rey took on a new relevance. It represented hope during a season in which the team has dropped way off the pace in LaLiga and yet Zidane decided to play with fire with his team selection and by leaving key, first team players out of the squad – and he got burned. Ok, even if he had fielded another team, they still would have had to book their place in the semi-finals – but considering the slender advantage from the first leg, it was an incredibly bold move to leave Cristiano off the list – or not giving momentum to the fine form Bale is hitting; both of them would have come in handy, and given the team a psychological lift, last night.

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Madrid have never really got into gear

Accidents are an unavoidable part of football but this elimination from the Cup, doubly painful on home turf, is not just a blip - it’s the consequence of a campaign which has been marred by flaws right from the start. It would be dangerous to make a full analysis in the heat of the moment but it’s precisely these kinds of disasters which mark the end of the road for a coach at Real Madrid. As I say, nothing can take away what Zidane has done or his place is club history is assured but football is about the present and this latest setback is a massive hammer blow – one which will be difficult to steer the team out of and impossible to forget.


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