Real Madrid upset in Copa Del Rey quarters as season from hell continues

Henry Bushnell
Leganes players celebrate their remarkable victory over <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/real-madrid/" data-ylk="slk:Real Madrid">Real Madrid</a> in the Copa Del Rey quarterfinals. (Getty)
Leganes players celebrate their remarkable victory over Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey quarterfinals. (Getty)

Every time things seem like they can’t get worse for Real Madrid, they do. And every time, no matter how many warning signs there were, Madrid’s failures send shockwaves through Spain and throughout the sport.

The latest of those failures was a stunning 2-1 second-leg defeat in the Copa Del Rey quarterfinals, to lowly Leganes, at home. It overturned a 1-0 first-leg advantage on away goals, and sent Real crashing out of one of the two remaining competitions that it realistically had a chance to win.

Madrid’s season is now two games away from being over in early March. A glamorous, pressure-packed Champions League Round of 16 matchup with PSG looms. And if it ends with the Parisians on top, it will condemn Real to its worst season in some time.

La Liga has already gone. It was lost in a span of just four months. Los Blancos find themselves 19 points behind league-leading Barcelona. They therefore have very little to play for on weekends, assuming they don’t get sucked all the way down into a battle for fourth place.

They therefore presumably should have been able to pour all their energy into the Copa Del Rey, at least until mid-February, when the Champions League resumes. But manager Zinedine Zidane trotted out two-thirds of a reserve side on Wednesday, expecting a walk in the park. Instead, he got more boos and whistles, and yet another colossal disappointment that could push him further toward the Santiago Bernabeu exit.

A team featuring Sergio Ramos, Isco and Karim Benzema went behind in the first half when Javier Eraso pounced on a cheap Madrid mistake at the back:

That leveled the tie 1-1 on aggregate. Benzema equalized less than two minutes after halftime:

But Gabriel’s goal eight minutes later gave Leganes a 2-1 lead on the day, and a 2-1 lead on away goals. It ultimately proved decisive.

Madrid had toyed with the idea of a calamitous Copa Del Rey loss for a while. As recently as the first leg, despite Marco Asensio’s late winner, it hadn’t looked entirely convincing. Its lack of depth was finally exposed on Wednesday.

If there is any positive here, it’s that Madrid can now exclusively focus on that trip to and visit from PSG. Despite its struggles, it is still among the group of five favorites for the Champions League crown. Its season from hell could yet be salvaged.

But it also could go from bad to worse very, very soon. And if it does, there’s no telling how unrelenting the fallout could be.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.