Copa del Rey shocks
With the changes to the rules of the Spanish domestic cup, the Copa Del Rey, there has been an increase in the amount of drama in the competition this season.
Typically the cup is played across two legs which gives the larger Primera Division sides an advantage. Should they lose in surprising fashion in the first leg, they can put right their wrongs in the second by fielding a stronger side.
Now though, with the competition a straight knockout with a single tie, there has been an increase in the number of shocks this season. La Liga favourites Atletico Madrid were knocked out by lower league opposition in the previous round.
Cornella, having beat Diego Simeone and his side host Barcelona aiming to pull off an equally impressive win. Barca coach Ronald Koeman is already getting the excuses in, citing the Cornella pitch as a cause for concern.
“For me, playing on artificial grass pitches is not football. I understand that these teams have the advantage of playing at home and I like it that way. But it depends on the state of the pitch and on the light,” he said.
The pair face off on Thursday at 8pm in what is a Catalan derby.
Zidane defends defeat
However, the current round brought arguably an even bigger shock after 10-man third-tier side Alcoyano beat Real Madrid 2-1 in extra time. Real’s coach Zinedine Zidane said that the result was ‘not a disgrace’ despite the Frenchman fielding a squad which included the likes of Isco, Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez and Marcelo with Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Toni Kroos and Eden Hazard all coming off the bench.
“We tried,” Zidane said. “The players gave their all on the pitch.
“I’m the coach, the responsibility is mine. I’m responsible. We’ve played against a third division team and we should have won but it’s not a disgrace. “I’m calm. We will see what happens in the next few days.”
The Frenchman was appreciative of the effort of the opposition, specifically their keeper but rued the missed opportunities after being knocked out of the Spanish Super Cup in the last couple of weeks also.
“This is football,” Zidane said. “These are things that happen in the life of a footballer. Had we scored the second goal it would have been a different game. Their goalkeeper made two or three saves.”
“It’s another painful day. We are now out of the Copa. It’s a difficult time. But we are not going to go crazy right now. We are going to think and continue to work.”
Real Madrid now travel to Alaves to try and find a win in their league as they attempt to chase down city rivals Atletico for one of only two available trophies with the Champions League available for the season.
This article was edited by Josh Barker.