Zinedine Zidane's future at Real Madrid is being questioned, while Paul Pogba could be set to stay at Manchester United.

Madrid were stunned by third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, sparking fresh talk about Zidane's position at the helm.

Zidane is under fire, but the Frenchman may get more time.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE BEING QUESTIONED AS REAL MADRID BOSS

Zinedine Zidane is being questioned more than ever as Real Madrid head coach, according to AS.

The report says he will remain at the helm until the Champions League, which will resume in February, and former star forward Raul is the top candidate to replace him.

Madrid are second in LaLiga, seven points behind Atletico Madrid, who also have a game in hand.

ROUND-UP

- Pogba may be happier at Manchester United. The Daily Star reports United are increasingly confident the midfielder will see out his contract, which runs until 2022, despite interest from Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

- Christian Eriksen looks set to leave Inter, but it remains to be seen where he ends up. The Telegraph claims Leicester City have ruled out a loan move for the midfielder due to his wage demands.

- RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano is set to be the subject of speculation for months to come. Goal reports Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have shown interest in the defender, who is also wanted by Bayern Munich.

- Dele Alli wants to reunite with Mauricio Pochettino at PSG. 90min says the Tottenham midfielder has asked chairman Daniel Levy not to block a potential switch this month.

- Arsenal appear set to strengthen in January. Sport reports midfielder Martin Odegaard is very close to joining the Premier League club on loan from Real Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid found no sympathy on the front pages of the Spanish sports press on Thursday after their shock Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Alcoyano.

The future of coach Zidane is back under the spotlight after the painful extra-time defeat that saw Juanan score in the 115th minute to earn a famous 2-1 victory.

Marca's front page showed Zidane, head bowed, walking away from the scene of one of Madrid's worst cup defeats.

Its headline said: "No one escapes this embarrassment."

Tumbling out to opposition from Segunda Division B was all the more pitiful given Alcoyano had been reduced to 10 men before they snatched their late winner.

In an editorial, Marca's Hugo Cerezo said the loss revealed a "deep crisis" at Madrid and claimed that Zidane's position was at serious risk.

"If he is saved from this, it is a miracle," wrote Cerezo. "His position now hangs by a thread, on the edge of the abyss."

Marca reported elsewhere on its website that Madrid directors hope to avoid making major decisions now and to hang on until the end of the season.

Zidane said after the game that it had been "another painful day" but that he believed the players still backed his leadership.

Having also lost in the semi-finals of the Supercopa to Athletic Bilbao last week, Madrid are having a grim time of it.

AS described Madrid's exit in much the same way as its fellow Madrid-based newspaper Marca, with a headline of "Embarrassment" followed by subheadings of "Second title gone in a week for Los Blancos" and "Zidane is hurt".

The Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo said the setback "opens another crisis" for Zidane, with its headline of "Humiliation" accompanied by scenes of joy among the Alcoyano players.

Columnist Josep M Artells wrote of "another embarrassment" and said critics would again look to Zidane, adding: "His management is more in question than ever."

Sport, another Barcelona daily operating out of Barcelona, also chose a single-word headline - going with 'Castanazo', a word which can mean great slap or punch.

That was reflected in the words of pundit Cristobal Soria, who on television show El Chiringuito said: "Today is a historic day, we are witnessing the biggest ridicule in the history of Real Madrid."

Zinedine Zidane insisted there was no shame in Real Madrid's shock loss to third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey.

Madrid were stunned by the Segunda Division B outfit in the last 32 as Juanan scored a 115th-minute winner on Wednesday.

Jose Solbes had earlier cancelled out Eder Militao's opener and Alcoyano found a winner despite Ramon Lopez's red card in extra time.

But Madrid head coach Zidane dismissed suggestions the defeat was shameful for the LaLiga champions.

"Those are your words. Those words, they do not belong to me," he told a news conference.

"This is football, difficult things because it's true that we play against a Segunda B team and we need to win the match normally, but at the end it hasn't been like that and this does not mean that this is a shame. It can happen and it happens sometimes in a footballer's career and responsibility must be assumed. I completely do.

"We will keep working … another painful day because we don't like to lose and overall for the players, because they just want to win. We won't get crazy now, let's think and keep working."

Excluding the defeat to Cadiz in 2015 for an illegal line-up, Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by a lower-league side for the first time since 2009.

No goalkeeper has made more saves than Jose Juan Figueras (10) in a game against Madrid this season as Zidane's men suffered back-to-back cup losses.

Asked if the players still believed in him, Zidane said: "Yes, I believe so. Then you have to ask them.

"We work, we try and lately we have done good things even though lately a bit less, but apart from the last three or four games, I believe that we have done good things this season.

"Now we have to think on LaLiga and the Champions League and that's it. To focus because things can be done. But if the players are still touched by my message? You have to ask the players. I believe so and we are in the same boat here."

Zinedine Zidane accepted Real Madrid's stunning Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Alcoyano will lead to further speculation over his future, but insisted he remained "very calm" over the situation.

Madrid were knocked out of the competition by lower league opponents for the first time since 2009 despite taking the lead on Wednesday, Eder Militao heading them in front on the stroke of half-time.

However, the reigning top-flight champions in Spain were unable to build on the lead, meaning an 80th-minute equaliser from Jose Solbes forced extra time.

A penalty shoot-out seemed the likely method to settle the last-32 tie, only for Juanan to pop up with a dramatic late winner that will no doubt increase the growing pressure on Zidane.

"When you lose there is always talk, I take responsibility and whatever has to happen will happen," the Madrid boss told the media in his post-match interview. 

"I am very calm. The players wanted to win the game, they try and sometimes different things happen."

Zidane rested some of his regulars but still selected a strong starting XI, while Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard were all introduced from the bench during proceedings.

The Frenchman could not fault the effort of his players as he accepted blame for the result; Alcoyano finished the game with 10 men too, Ramon Lopez sent off before Juanan's 115th-minute strike.

Madrid finished up having 26 shots - 11 of which were on target - and had 73 per cent of possession, yet still crashed out.

"The players have tried and if we score the second goal it is another match, football is like that," Zidane added after the 2-1 loss.

"The goalkeeper has made two or three saves and we have not scored the second goal, but I take responsibility. We are out."

He added: "This is football, it is very difficult because we played against a Segunda Division B team and we have to win the game, but it has not been like that.

"It can happen, it happens, these are things that happen in a football career. I assume responsibility and we will continue working. We will not go crazy."

Madrid must quickly put the cup result behind them as they continue their LaLiga title defence on Saturday, travelling to Deportivo Alaves.

Real Madrid suffered an embarrassing Copa del Rey exit on Wednesday, letting slip a one-goal lead as they went down 2-1 to Segunda Division B team Alcoyano after extra time. 

Zinedine Zidane's side had won just once in four outings going into the last-32 tie, including falling to a disappointing Supercopa de Espana semi-final exit to eventual winners Athletic Bilbao. 

However, while that result was a setback, Madrid can expect to face a much more severe backlash after being on the wrong end of a famous upset at the tiny Estadio El Collao.

Eder Militao rewarded the visitors' dominance when heading his team in front on the stroke of half-time, yet Madrid failed to build on the centre-back's first goal for the club. 

The hosts defended in stoic fashion to keep the gap down to one before grabbing an unlikely equaliser with 10 minutes remaining, Jose Solbes poking home from close range at a corner.

Alcoyano had Ramon Lopez sent off in the second period of extra time but the 10 men grabbed an unlikely winner through Juanan, who volleyed in Ali Diakite's cross in the 115th minute to seal a famous result.

  

Dani Ceballos knows only too well why Martin Odegaard has become frustrated at Real Madrid, insisting ambitious young players "need to play regularly" to further their development.

Odegaard impressed last season during a loan spell at LaLiga rivals Real Sociedad, yet he has struggled for minutes this term having returned to Madrid.

The Norway international has started just five games in all competitions and clocked up a mere 233 league minutes, leading to reports in Spain that he wants to leave in the January transfer window.

Ceballos himself is spending a second season on loan at Arsenal, a decision taken to make sure he had a greater opportunity for first-team action.

"I don't know exactly what happens with Martin, but it is obvious that any player who wants to succeed at Madrid is going to grab the opportunity he has," Ceballos said in an interview with Efe.

"I don't know what Martin thinks, but I know I think that when you're young and you have goals and objectives, what you need is to play regularly.

"If you don't, it's like something is missing. I guess that's what's happening to Martin."

Odegaard has failed to score or assist in his nine appearances for Madrid this season, having contributed seven goals and nine assists in 2019-20 while away on loan.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a return to Sociedad, potentially in a loan deal that includes an option to buy.

Ceballos, meanwhile, has not given up hope of forcing his way in at Madrid, though will need assurances over his future role if he is to remain in the Spanish capital next season.

"They don't have to tell me anything," the midfielder - who has won 11 caps for Spain - said of his own future. 

"It would be to have a talk with the coach and the coaching staff that is in at that moment and know that I will have equal opportunities with him.

"From there, you have to earn it on the field."

Ceballos has played in 24 games for Arsenal this term under Mikel Arteta, his most recent start coming in the 0-0 home draw with Crystal Palace on January 14.

Zinedine Zidane has responded to reports linking Real Madrid with moves for Bayern Munich's David Alaba and Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain.

Alaba will be out of contract at Bayern at the end of the season and on Monday Spanish sports newspaper Marca claimed an agreement on a four-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu had been reached.

The versatile defender's father, who also acts as an advisor, has since denied anything has been signed with LaLiga champions Madrid.

Asked about the rumours on Tuesday during a news conference to preview a Copa del Rey clash with Alcoyano, Zidane was unwilling to get into specifics.

"I understand you want to ask this question on a player that isn't part of our club, but I'm here to focus on Wednesday's game," he said.

"I understand there are topics worth discussing but I'm not going to comment now on outside events. My staff and I are focusing on the game."

The Madrid boss offered a similar response when asked if he would like to have Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe at the club.

He said: "I'm sorry, I already said the same with Alaba. I'm sorry. We're focused on tomorrow's game."

France international Mbappe will be out of contract at PSG at the end of next season and has never hidden his admiration of his fellow World Cup winner and compatriot Zidane.

Asked if the best players in the world ultimate choose where they want to play, Zidane responded: "In the end, yes. But everyone has a contract and it's not good to get involved in the things of players who are not yours."

Since his debut for PSG on August 4, 2017, Mbappe has had a hand in 101 goals in Ligue 1 (76 scored and 25 assisted).

Across the top five European Leagues, only Mohamed Salah (117 – 86 and 31), Ciro Immobile (118 – 92 and 26), Robert Lewandowski (124 – 106 and 18) and Lionel Messi (154 – 106 and 48) have had a hand in more during the same time frame.

He has averaged two key passes per 90 minutes, fewer only than Messi (2.7) and Neymar (3.0) among players to have scored at least 50 goals.

Zinedine Zidane said missing out on a Supercopa de Espana final showdown with Barcelona was not a failure for Real Madrid after they were beaten 2-1 by Athletic Bilbao.

Raul Garcia's first-half double was enough to knock the holders out and end their nine-match unbeaten run at La Rosaleda on Thursday.

Karim Benzema's 13th goal of the season gave Los Blancos hope after Marco Asensio hit the woodwork twice, but the Basque side held on to secure only a second win over the LaLiga champions in 23 matches and a first victory under new coach Marcelino.

Madrid boss Zidane felt his side fell short of the high standards he expects in the first half, but he will not be dwelling on the setback.

He said: "Our first half was difficult, we didn't get into the game well, they scored two goals. They had two chances and two goals. When you are two goals down it is always difficult.

"Then we had a better second half, we created chances, we had several, scored a goal, but could not score a second."

He added: "It is not a failure. Failure is not trying, not giving everything on the field. Life is like that, you can't always win. What we always try to do is win, but you can't always."

Madrid had not lost since December 1 and Zidane expects his side, who have a weekend off before facing Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey next Wednesday, to respond after missing out on another trophy.

The former France playmaker said: "We had a good run and now it's two draws and one loss [in their past four games]. We have to keep working to change the dynamics quickly.

"The outside will be the same as always, what we can do is keep working and move this forward as a team."

Eden Hazard again failed to show what he is capable of, hitting the target only once from three attempts and making just one key pass.

The Belgium forward has scored just two goals and not provided an assist in an injury-hit campaign, but Zidane remains confident he will come good.

Zidane said: "He must regain confidence, play a good game, score a goal, something different. We know the player he is and we have to be patient, but he is working. We are with him, we have to be patient."

Athletic and Barca do battle for the trophy at Estadio de La Cartuja on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane has no doubts Martin Odegaard will succeed at Real Madrid despite his limited appearances for Los Blancos this season. 

The 22-year-old was recalled by Madrid in August after a stellar campaign on loan at Real Sociedad, where he scored four goals and assisted a further six in 31 LaLiga appearances. 

He has struggled to make an impact back at his parent club this term, though, and has been limited to just three league starts. 

Not only has he failed to score in those appearances, Odegaard has also not created a significant chance for a team-mate or completed a dribble either. 

In contrast, last season Odegaard crafted 10 big opportunities and 62 chances in total – with 27 from set-pieces.

However, Zidane is confident the Norway international will soon make his mark at the champions, who face Athletic Bilbao in a Supercopa de Espana semi-final on Thursday. 

"Let him continue working, he is a beloved player and he will surely succeed here," Zidane told a media conference.

"He has not played much lately but the idea is to keep working hard; he will have minutes. 

"He will provide insurance. This is a specific moment. In a race things happen to the players, but he is not discouraged."

Luka Jovic, meanwhile, will play no part on Thursday with a loan move to former club Eintracht Frankfurt imminent. 

Jovic swapped Eintracht for Madrid in a €60million transfer ahead of the 2019-20 season, but the Serbia forward has endured a turbulent period under Zidane. 

The 23-year-old – who managed just two goals in 25 appearances in his first season in the Spanish capital – has only featured in 149 minutes of LaLiga action this term, while he has played in just five matches across all competitions amid ongoing form and fitness issues.

But Jovic is set for a reunion with Bundesliga side Eintracht, for whom he scored 27 goals in 2018-19 before leaving for the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zidane accepts Jovic has been unlucky during his time at the club and expects him to return to top form soon.

"He's a striker who scores goals and that's what we want from him," he added. "He was 21 [when Madrid signed him] and he's had no luck because he had difficulties adapting and injuries. It is not easy. 

"He has to learn many things. He has qualities, I have no doubts."

Zinedine Zidane struggled to hide his frustration at the fact Real Madrid's LaLiga contest at Osasuna was not postponed despite the impact of Storm Filomena.

Los Blancos played out a forgettable goalless draw at El Sadar, with Madrid failing to muster an effort on target in the first half.

The match was played amid difficult conditions with snow continuing to fall and a significant dusting on the pitch.

Madrid's preparations for the fixture were hardly ideal either with the team trapped on a plane for two hours on Friday as ice on the runway delayed their flight out of the capital.

Head coach Zidane, who is unsure when the team can travel back to Madrid with the city having been heavily impacted by the storm, was left flabbergasted that the match went ahead.

"We did what we could do on the field but it was not a football match," he said.

"The conditions were very difficult. Everything that has happened these two days has been very complicated. 

"We do not know when we can return and the truth is that we will see how it is fixed.

"Clearly the match against Osasuna should have been postponed. Clearly.

"The conditions to play football were not met, which in the end is what everyone wants. Both us and the rival, as well as the people."

Zidane was reluctant to say if he felt his team had been harmed by LaLiga's decision, adding: "I'm not going to get into these things. 

"We have done what they have told us, we have played and that's it. We have to think about recovering even if we don't know if we are going to go to Madrid tomorrow, if we are going to return on Monday. And on Wednesday we have another game."

Zinedine Zidane hopes Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez's contracts with Real Madrid are "sorted out".

Ramos, 34, and Vazquez, 29, are both out of contract at the end of the season and their futures remain uncertain.

Reports suggest Ramos has turned down a one-year deal from Madrid, the club he arrived at in 2005.

Asked about Ramos and Vazquez possibly not signing contracts, Zidane told a news conference: "I don't want it but, in football, you never know.

"What I want and what we want you already know. You will ask me again at another press conference after the match and I will tell you the same thing. What I hope is that this will be sorted out, nothing more."

Madrid visit Osasuna in LaLiga on Saturday as they look to keep the pressure on Atletico, who are two points clear and have played two fewer games.

Eden Hazard's future is again a talking point at Madrid and the playmaker last started a league game in November.

But Zidane is unwilling to take risks with the 30-year-old, who has struggled with injuries since arriving at the club.

"He is with us. He is training regularly, then after that I don't know," he said.

"We will see if he is for 90 minutes or not and we will see how the pitch is. And for the next matches we will see the same, little by little."

Zinedine Zidane has no plans to rest Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema as he vowed slowly ease Eden Hazard back to full match fitness.

Benzema failed to register a single shot on goal in Madrid's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo in LaLiga on Saturday and twice missed the target from good positions.

The 33-year-old has started 15 of Madrid's 17 LaLiga matches this season and only goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Raphael Varane have played more minutes.

When asked in a post-match media conference if Benzema, who has scored eight goals in LaLiga, needed a break, following a slightly jaded showing, Zidane disagreed.

"I don’t think he’s tired," Zidane said.

"I think he did well and I took him off so that another player could play. We’re in a great spell. We’re doing the right things and we have to continue like this."

Hazard came off the bench for another run out late in the second half against Celta as he stepped up his return from an injury-hit start to the season.

"We are going to go little by little," added Zidane. "Little by little, you have to recover feelings.

"We have to take it slowly and not force anything. He has to get back to his best and take it slowly. That’s all it is."

Madrid's possession against Celta was 41 per cent which was the lowest recorded in a win under Zidane at home in all competitions.

The Madrid head coach was, however, satisfied with the manner in which his side were able to manage the game against Celta.

"We played a complete game from the beginning to the end," Zidane explained.

"We controlled the game well, we had a good balance, when it came to pressing up and getting the ball back, we did everything well.

"You have to control when the rival team has strong moments in the game, but the feelings are good, out of nine games we won six and three draws."

Goals from Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio gave Madrid the victory as the pair assisted each other in what was the fourth duo to combine between them in a single LaLiga game this season.

Zidane added: "I am happy for Asensio. He has had a major injury and now he is much better and improving every time.

"Vazquez is very reliable, very involved and I am happy for what he is doing. We played a very serious game. I'm happy for everyone."

Real Madrid went top of LaLiga for the first time since October after a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday thanks to goals from Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.

Vazquez headed Madrid in front six minutes into the game and Asensio added a second after the break with a fine finish.

Celta rarely threatened Thibaut Courtois' goal as their six-game unbeaten run came to an end.

The result helped Zinedine Zidane's side move a point clear of city rivals Atletico Madrid, who will have the chance to return to the summit when they face Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

Celta almost stole an early lead when Iago Aspas chased a ball behind the defence and chipped an effort over Courtois as he raced off his line, but Nacho chased back to hook it away.

From the resulting counterattack, Madrid went ahead when Asensio broke down the left and his cross picked out Vazquez, who headed in at the back post.

Celta's players claimed for a penalty after Jeison Murillo's volleyed effort struck Ferland Mendy, but the referee dismissed the visitors' appeals.

Madrid went close shortly before the break as Dani Carvajal saw an audacious volley from the edge of the box fly just past the post.

Zidane's side ruthlessly punished some sloppy Celta play soon after half-time, which allowed Vazquez to slide in Asensio to clinically fire past goalkeeper Ruben Blanco.

Fine play by Toni Kroos opened up the Celta defence again on the hour but Madrid captain Karim Benzema lost his footing at the critical moment and flashed his shot past the upright.

Madrid brought on Eden Hazard with 16 minutes left as the Belgian forward continued to build up his match fitness following a long-term injury.

Benzema squandered another late chance when he lifted a shot over the crossbar, while former Los Blancos youngster Miguel Baeza was denied at the death as Madrid saw the game out without conceding.

 

Zinedine Zidane is aiming to "take advantage of the moment" at Real Madrid as he is unsure how long his Santiago Bernabeu reign will last.

The four-year anniversary of Zidane's initial appointment at Madrid is approaching, but the head coach revealed last month he was not discussing an extension to a contract that expires in 2022.

The Frenchman was asked prior to Saturday's game against Celta Vigo if another four years at Madrid - this time unbroken by a spell away - could be on the cards.

However, unable to provide any promises over a long-term stay, Zidane responded: "It takes a lot out of you, but it's a great position here.

"I'm lucky enough to say I'm manager of Real Madrid and take advantage of every moment. I can't say a month, a year or four years. Life is just about the day to day.

"That's what I'm interested in: the day to day, to give everything I can, in every training session, every game. That's what I'm interested in.

"The rest? I don't know what's going to happen in one week. That's why we have to take advantage of the moment."

Zidane will hope to have added to his 11 major honours by the time he does depart, although this season's LaLiga title race is far from straightforward.

Defending champions Madrid can at least briefly move above Atletico Madrid if they beat Celta, against whom they are unbeaten in 12 in LaLiga, but Zidane's men have already played two more games than their city rivals.

It is advantage Atleti for now, yet the former Ballon d'Or winner is not overly concerned.

"Being first means you have an advantage, and that's it," Zidane explained. "We just have to keep on going. We can't control [Atleti being favourites].

"They have an advantage because they're first, and that's it. People are speaking a lot about Atletico now, because, as I said, they're first.

"But the nice thing about this league, right up until the end, it's going to be an open league - as it always is. We'll see."

Despite their strong recent record against Celta - scoring in 28 consecutive home LaLiga meetings, their longest ongoing such run against any side - Madrid were held 2-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu last season.

Eighth-placed Celta could draw against Madrid in consecutive matches for the first time since May 2003.

Zinedine Zidane is not entertaining speculation about transfer talks with David Alaba as Real Madrid battle to defend their LaLiga title.

Bayern Munich defender Alaba is out of contract in Germany at the end of the season and negotiations over an extension have so far proved fruitless for the European champions.

The Austria international has been mooted as a target for Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain as well as Madrid, although Zidane's outfit are considered favourites for his signature in some quarters.

Alaba was a key part of the Bayern team that won the Champions League last season.

However, since the start of 2019-20, he has committed four errors leading to shots in the competition, a joint-high among defenders. None of these have resulted in goals, while Madrid's Raphael Varane has made the same number of mistakes but been punished on all four occasions.

Alaba's statistics over this period are very similar to Varane's, playing 13 games to his 14 and having 29 fewer touches and seven fewer successful passes.

Varane is also just four tackles, two blocks, five clearances and seven interceptions ahead of his counterpart.

Rather than being signed as a competitor to Varane, though, Alaba could partner the World Cup winner as talismanic Madrid captain Sergio Ramos approaches his 35th birthday.

Either way, the speculation does not interest head coach Zidane, who said ahead of facing Celta Vigo: "We've got all our players here. I'm just thinking about the game tomorrow with the players that I have here.

"Then maybe you're going to ask me about the players that are playing a lot or not playing a lot. We have 22 players, 25 with the goalkeepers, a very big squad.

"We have enough to think about with the games that we have not to be thinking about players that aren't even ours. Please, we're thinking just about the game tomorrow."

While Zidane is keeping his focus on LaLiga, where Madrid trail Atletico Madrid by two points, the need to bring in a player of Alaba's calibre would become urgent if a new contract for Ramos was not agreed.

The PSG-linked skipper, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez are all free agents, like Alaba, in June 2021.

"Yes, we all want [contracts to be signed]," Zidane said. "We want the situation to be sorted as quickly as possible.

"It's in everyone's interests, it would be good for everyone, so hopefully it can be sorted out quickly."

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