Zidane seeking Copa del Rey glory
Real Madrid return to Copa del Rey action against Segunda B side Alcoyano on Wednesday night. Zidane will be aiming to take his team further than the quarter-finals in 2020-21.
While still licking the wounds caused by their 2-1 defeat in the Super Cup against Athletic Club in Malaga, Real Madrid look to get back to winning ways in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. The Copa del Rey has been an unattainable goal for Zinedine Zidane in his spell with Los Blancos. The closer his team gets to it, the bigger the fall and the greater the disappointment. For Zizou, the cup is a competition that has caused him severe disappointments in the past, some with major consequences.
Zidane joined Madrid as head coach in January 2016, with the club already eliminated from that year's Copa del Rey after Denis Cheryshev's was ineligible for selection against Cádiz and with Rafa Benítez in charge at the time. Zizou settled for an impressive double, winning the league title and the Champions League.
The French coach never lifted the Copa del Rey as a Madrid player. He lost two finals to Deportivo and Real Zaragoza. As coach, he hasn't passed the quarter-finals of the competition.
Iago Aspas defeats Madrid
In 2016-17, Zidane's Madrid took on Celta Vigo in the quarter-final. Iago Aspas dominated the first leg, ending in a 2-1 victory for the Galician side and Madrid in need of a comeback. Aspas scored the first and assisted in second.
Madrid travelled to Balaídos convinced of a comeback, but an own goal from Danilo on the brink of half-time extended Celta's advantage. Cristiano Ronaldo equalised, Wass made it 2-1 to Celta, before Lucas Vázquez made it 2-2. It was all too little to late for Zidane's charges. Madrid would end up winning both LaLiga and the Champions League that season, but the Copa del Rey was one cup too many.
Leganés knock Zidane out
The 2017-18 Copa saw Real Madrid face south Madrid club Leganés in the quarter-finals. Despite losing 0-1 in the first leg, they prevailed at the Bernabéu, winning 2-1 and reaching the semi-finals. After the game, Zidane said: "I'm responsible for the defeat, I am very disappointed."
The coach himself acknowledged when announcing his departure from Madrid in the summer of 2018, days after winning his third Champions League, that the defeat to Leganés hit him hard: "My worst memory in Madrid is that game. There are complicated times that make you reflect. I think that with me in charge it will be difficult for the team to win next year. There have been difficult times and I haven't forgotten them." The former Madrid No 5 would end up returning in the 2018-19 season, with Madrid already eliminated from the cup, losing to Barcelona in the semi-finals.
In the 2019-20 season, the RFEF changed the format of the Copa del Rey, with one legged ties until the semi-finals. A format, designed for giant-killings. Madrid travelled to take on Unionistas de Salamanca, winning 3-1 and then 4-0 against Real Zaragoza. In the quarter-finals, they welcomed Real Sociedad to the Santiago Bernabéu. Sociedad went 4-1 up thanks to a brace from Isak. Rodrygo and Nacho scored before full-time for Madrid, but Sociedad ran out 4-3 winners on the night, culminating in Zidane seeing his side once again get knocked out at the quarter-final stage. On Wednesday, against Alcoyano, the French manager starts another Copa del Rey campaign, aiming to get his hands on the only trophy he has yet to win for Los Blancos.
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