Zinedine Zidane’s plan of rotating players had been working well so far, but somehow, it failed to fetch the desired results against Real Sociedad in the quarterfinals of Copa del Ray. The match was in front of the home crowd – Santiago Bernabeu – where the Los Blancos were cooked.
Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Barcelona
Real Madrid 3-4 Real Sociedad
For the first time in 10 years, neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid will be in the Copa del Rey semis. pic.twitter.com/G9rUcvLPms
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 6, 2020
James Rodriguez was played in the midfield alongside Toni Kroos and Fede Valverde. Nacho Fernadez and Marcelo started on both the flanks, while Brahim Diaz featured to showcase his talent. As a matter of fact, the names suggest, the rotation policy of Zidane was not wrong at all – such players bear enough experience and talent to pull things off against any opposition on a given day.
Real Madrid the type of club to be able to win the Champions League 3 times in a row but can only win the Copa del Rey 3 times in 30 years.
— Xav Salazar (@XavsFutbol) February 6, 2020
But surprisingly, the Los Blancos were off-colour.
Even a few days back, Zidane’s defence was widely praised by many and considered one of the most important factors behind his brilliant unbeaten run, but last night it looked shaky. Especially, during the transition.
Real Sociedad end Real Madrid's 21-game unbeaten run across all competitions.
And reach their first Copa del Rey semi-final since 2014. ? pic.twitter.com/0c5Ki6jjrB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 6, 2020
Sociedad exploited the space behind Nacho – Mikel Oyarzabal would make a run without the ball behind him time and again, which was overlooked. Eder Militao would have to come over and make an important interception during that period.
James in the midfield failed to provide the solidity and struggled to move up and down as the midfield was exposed without Casemiro.
Real Madrid were off-colour except for Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes. At the back they melted and which conveys the message, yet again, how important Casemiro is for Real Madrid. I think already he is one of the best defensive midfielder in the history of football.
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) February 7, 2020
Even offensively, Real Madrid lacked the creative touch except for Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes – both of them consistently threatened from both the flanks. Vinicius was a continuous threat to Gorosabel all night. He was able to dribble past his marker over and over again and find room for a cross or a shot. He also scored one disallowed goal in the second half and set up Rodrygo’s goal to make it 2 – 4.
— Real Madrid C.F. ???? (@realmadriden) February 6, 2020
Alexander Isak was the hero of the night, but whether Real Madrid made it tough for him or not remains a moot question. Overall, Real Madrid had been below-par and finally, the fantastic unbeaten run came to an end.