Sergio Ramos says Real Madrid players still backing Zinedine Zidane

Pressure increases on European champions’ manager after shock cup exit to Leganes

Zinedine Zidane: “I don’t understand what’s going on,” said  Real Madrid’s manager after the cup defeat to  humble Leganes. Photograph: Juan Medina/ERS

Zinedine Zidane: “I don’t understand what’s going on,” said Real Madrid’s manager after the cup defeat to humble Leganes. Photograph: Juan Medina/ERS

 

Captain Sergio Ramos insists his fellow Real Madrid players are always “the first ones to stand up” for the under-fire Zinedine Zidane and warned against a change of management.

A surprise 2-1 home defeat to Leganes eliminated Real from the Copa del Rey on Wednesday as the club from the Madrid suburbs – only recently promoted to LaLiga – reached the semi-finals on away goals.

Reigning Spanish champions Real have slumped to fourth place in the league, where they are 19 points behind leaders and arch-rivals Barcelona after losing two of their last four matches.

Former France international Zidane has led Real to two Champions League trophies but this season’s travails have heaped pressure on the 45-year-old, who succeeded Rafael Benitez in January 2016.

Centre-back Ramos, however, is optimistic about the rest of the campaign, as a European showdown with Paris St Germain in February looms large.

When asked about Zidane’s outlook as Real’s head coach, he told Spanish sport newspaper Marca: “I’m not a big fan of changes. We are the first ones to stand up for Zidane.

“To go out of the Copa del Rey is a failure. These are tough times, but we must be as united as possible and not throw the rest of the season away. You have to learn from bad moments. We are all responsible and we hope this serves some use in the future. We still have the Champions League.”

Leganes pulled off their shock triumph at the Bernabeu with goals from Javier Eraso and Gabriel, with Karim Benzema equalising in between.

Humble neighbours

Zidane admits the upcoming Champions League clash with PSG could make or break his career in Madrid.

“That is clear,” he said. “I am responsible for this. I’m the one who has to find solutions for the team to be more efficient. We have to think about getting up and keeping on working because on Saturday there is another game [against Valencia].”

Zidane described their elimination from the King’s Cup by humble neighbours Leganes as a “fiasco”.

It is almost a year ago to the day that Madrid’s record 40-game unbeaten run in all competitions ended as they swept all before them. But this season has been an unlikely tale of woe for the La Liga and European champions.

“It’s a fiasco. My worst moment as a coach. I don’t regret anything I did in the game, though. I take responsibility for what I do. Winning 1-0 from the first leg, to start tonight’s tie in the manner we did it’s really bad. For that I’m angry. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested for the Leganes encounter, tweeted on Thursday: “Come on, team. Come on, Madrid fans. There are many battles ahead that we still have to win.”

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