JAVIER SORIANO / AFP / Getty
Zinedine Zidane is putting all of his eggs in one basket – not that he has much of a choice.
Real Madrid was dumped from the Copa del Rey on Wednesday following a shock 2-1 defeat to Leganes at the Bernabeu. Los Blancos were unable to complete the job following a 1-0 victory in the first leg, and went out on away goals.
The quarter-final elimination and growing chasm between Madrid and table-topping Barcelona in La Liga means Zidane’s only real chance of winning more silverware this season is in the Champions League. The back-to-back European champion meets Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.
Real Madrid wasn’t exactly convincing en route to the final eight. Each of the previous three rounds had yielded 2-2 second-leg scorelines but, on this occasion, Leganes held firm and was good value for its 2-1 win.
Javier Eraso’s opener was beautiful. Sloppiness at the back from Achraf Hakimi and Nacho Fernandez allowed Eraso to gobble up possession, but his single touch contrasted the calamity that preceded it. The 27-year-old wrapped his foot around the ball from 25 yards, finding Kiko Casilla’s top-right corner with aplomb.
It looked like normal order would be restored when Karim Benzema lifted the ball into the mesh after a one-two with Lucas Vazquez, but Gabriel Pires’ 55th-minute bullet header put the visitor back ahead.
Zidane sifted through his substitutes in search of a hero, but Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric, and Borja Mayoral were unable to inspire a rescue mission from the bench. The latter was introduced in place of Isco – an intriguing decision by the French tactician given Real Madrid needed to unpick a compact and disciplined unit.
With the domestic trophy hunt practically over, Zidane may be tempted to start devising methods to break down Paris Saint-Germain in his notepad. For Leganes, the quest for its first-ever piece of major silverware continues.