Zidane may be running out of time at Real Madrid
MADRID (AP) — Zinedine Zidane could be running out of time at Real Madrid.
Zidane, who led Madrid to the Champions League title in his first season as coach, is now struggling to keep his job with the team 19 points behind Barcelona in the Spanish league.
His problems became worse when Madrid lost 2-1 at home to Leganes in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
Zidane looks like he has one last chance to save his job by beating Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League. The two teams meet in the first leg in Spain on Feb. 14, with the return match in France on March 6.
“That’s very obvious,” Zidane said after the loss to Leganes. “I’m the one responsible for all of this. I’m the coach. I’m the one who has to find the solutions.”
The Champions League is the only competition Madrid has a realistic chance of winning. The club is going for a hat trick after lifting the trophy in 2016 and 2017.
“We’ve lost one competition and we’re a long way off in La Liga,” Zidane said. “Our objectives aren’t what we had planned for at the start of the season. All we can do now is think about the remaining games, starting with Saturday (at Valencia), and prepare well for Feb. 14.”
Madrid was held to a 2-2 home draw by Valencia earlier this season and hasn’t won at the Mestalla since 2013.
Zidane said the loss to Leganes was the worst moment of his coaching career.
“I’m angry with myself,” he said. “I can’t understand it. We have to find a way to recover.”
Zidane hasn’t just been criticized for poor results. Fans have also questioned some of his recent decisions, including the move to rest Cristiano Ronaldo and other regular starters against Leganes.
“I don’t regret it. I take responsibility for my decisions,” Zidane said. “The players have to rest. You can’t look at the team that played and say it wasn’t competitive. It was. The problem was that we lost.”
The only regular starters against Leganes were Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Isco, who was replaced late in the game. Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal came off the bench in the second half.
The crowd jeered after the final whistle, a common occurrence at the Bernabeu recently. Before routing Deportivo La Coruna 7-1 in the league on Sunday, Madrid had gone three matches without a home win.
Madrid has won half of its 18 home games in all competitions this season, losing four times, including 3-0 to Barcelona.
Zidane made a remarkable start after taking over in January 2016 following a stint with Madrid’s “B″ squad. He led the club to two Champions League titles, one Spanish league trophy and consecutive titles in both the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.
He began this season by helping Madrid win the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona.
“I take responsibility for the situation (now),” Zidane said. “I’ll continue working and fighting. I’m going to try to make the team better and that’s it.”
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