To say Real Madrid’s cup tie loss was an embarrassment is understating the sentiments felt throughout the Spanish capital. David emphatically slew Goliath, reinforcing the numerous concerns surrounding a club considered a contender for both La Liga and the Champions League.
The role of David was played by AD Alcorcon, a third division club (Segunda B) located 13 km southwest of Madrid, whose victory has put Real Madrid’s backs up against the wall in the Copa del Rey competition while casting a great deal of doubt on the future of Real’s season.
Real Madrid's general director, Jorge Valdano, was quick to apologize to fans after the game, but what did we learn from Real's thrashing at the hands of a third division club? For one, Drenthe reaffirmed that he cannot play left back. The Dutch international was outplayed multiple times on the wing leaving the Madrid defence outnumbered and exposed on numerous occasions.
Arbeloa returned to the defence from injury and scored... an own goal, doubling Alcorcon's lead after only 21 minutes. And as for the rest of Real's criticized defence? Albiol and Metzelder did not fair much better as Madrid's defensive concerns seem to mount daily, each game providing another area of distress. Alcorcon thread passes through the Madrid backline with ease, setting up a plethora of opportunities and enabling their strikers to only need to touch home past Real keeper Dudek.
Karim Benzema has also yet to prove himself for his new club. The French striker, apart from one match, has been a ghost all season, unable to find his form and the back of the net. Even with Real's great depth, the return of Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo will be necessary if Pellegrini's men care to compete for any trophy. Losers of three of their last five matches (1-3-1), Los Blancos will need to right their ship quickly if they desire to stay in any cup competition or within sight La Liga leaders, and fierce rival, FC Barcelona. Madrid's recent form has also generated debate about the future of manager Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean, who was at the helm of Villarreal's rise to Spanish prominence, is also a newcomer to the Bernabeu this season.
Although a successful start to the campaign had publications like Marca singing his praises, a continuation of Madrid's poor form could result in a short tenure for Pellegrini at the Bernabeu. It is interesting to note that Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, has not come out in support of the maligned manager either; Mirroring a strategy he often undertook during the first era of Galacticos, which usually resulted in the termination of the head coach.
Although Madrid's pathetic performance has them on the brink of elimination by another third division side (they were eliminated in last year's Copa del Rey by Real Union on aggregate), there is still a second leg to be played in a fortnight at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real can still advance; however, no victory, no matter how emphatic, can atone for the humiliation that was Tuesday night.