Real Madrid have been eliminated from the Copa del Rey after a 2-1 defeat away at third tier outfit and 10-man CD Alcoyano, in a game which went to extra-time and had plenty of drama.
The biggest headline before the game was that Zinedine Zidane had left out Martin Ødegaard from the match squad, which raised several questions to begin with. A heavily rotated team were sent out at the Campo Municipal El Collao, but things weren’t easy for the reigning La Liga champions.
Throughout the first 15 minutes, Real looked empty of ideas and lacked a clear plan, something which has been a theme all season so far. Federico Valverde had a hit from distance to give 41-year old goalkeeper Jose Juan his first task of the game. It didn’t really get any better for Madrid, the first half hour was about playing the ball over the top of the Alcoyano defence, but that just wasn’t working.
Andriy Lunin was given a chance as Thibaut Courtois was rested, and he was called into action as the hosts had their first major opportunity, Jona’s header tipped over the bar by the young keeper. Down the other end, something finally clicked for Madrid. Marcelo’s cross picked out Eder Militao at the back post who’s diving header put an underwhelming Real ahead just before the break.
You would think that would change things, but nothing changed from Los Merengues. Still limited to crosses and shots from distance, Lucas Vazquez – starting in his 19th consecutive game – had a go from 20-yards out, Juan again diving at full stretch to keep the score at 1-0.
With a quarter of an hour left on the clock, Vinicius Junior had a couple of minutes to forget. The Brazilian was firstly put through on goal by Casemiro, but Juan was out quickly off his line to smother Vini’s attempt, even though the winger could have decided against shooting and gone around Juan instead. In transition, Alcoyano won a corner, and Juli’s corner found its way to Jose Solbes, with Vinicius daydreaming instead of marking Solbes at the back-post. That made it 1-1.
Before the 90 minutes were up, Madrid had a chance to win it in normal time, again it came from a Marcelo cross, this time though, Juan heroically kept out Lucas with his umpteenth big save of the game.
Soon into extra time, Marco Asensio – on for Vinicius – was through on goal after combining nicely with Karim Benzema, guess who denied the Spanish Giants? Juan with a magnificent save low to his right. By this time Zidane had summoned Toni Kroos and Eden Hazard to pull this victory out of the bag for him, but as the clock ticked down, it was obvious something was brewing in the Valencian atmosphere.
That was despite the home side going down to 10-men, when Ramon Lopez was shown a second yellow card for his clumsy challenge on Casemiro, they were still growing into it. Marcelo himself tried to burden the responsibility, his dinky little run led to a right-footed shot which Juan again pushed out. But five minutes before penalties, the hosts had a break. It was stunningly quick, and aided by terribly lackluster defending by Lucas and Valverde on the right wing. Javi Anton was played in by Ali Diakite, who’s ball to the near post was flicked in by Juanan Casanova before Lunin could make contact with it.
A shocking defeat for Madrid, Zidane looked rattled and condemned on the touchline. Real have won this tournament 19-times, but have failed to lift it for seven years and have only won it twice since 1993. This also is the fifth time a team from the third tier has eliminated Madrid since 2001. Trouble brewing.
Up next for Real Madrid?
Who? Deportivo Alaves
When? Saturday 23rd January @ 21:00 CET
Where? Mendizorrotza Stadium