UD Alcorcon saw off Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey Tuesday night, defeating the seventeen time champions 4-1 on aggregate. For the second consecutive year Real were eliminated from the Copa del Rey at the hands of a third division team. Alcorcon pulled off a surprising victory two weeks ago, shocking Los Blancos 4-0 in the first leg of the competition.
On tuesday, at the Bernabeu, Alcorcon were able to complete the upset by only conceding once in the return leg. One third of the triple is now unattainable; however, with a league visit to Barcelona and the final two fixtures of the Champions League group stage within a month, Madrid have the opportunity to move forward and put this embarrassment behind them.
In the sixteen years since Real last won the Copa del Rey, Los Blancos have won the league title six times and been crowned Champions of Europe another three; nonetheless, Real's impotence in the Copa still profoundly resonates throughout the Spanish capital. To add insult to injury, league rivals FC Barcelona were able to capture all three of the aforementioned trophies last season. Madrid President Florentino Perez was quick to note that this is a long-term project and a trophy-less season would not be a complete failure. Erroneous. Barcelona's recent success combined with the copious amounts of money Perez invested to assemble his new 'galacticos' would argue the contrary.
Champions cannot be built overnight and maybe Perez is finally attesting to the fact that his team, strife with newcomers, needs time to gel. Flashes of such chemistry were present in Real's previous two matches against AC Milan and Atletico de Madrid, giving the Madrid faithful hope for silverware this season. There is no doubt that the expectation in the Spanish capital is to win, a sentiment felt by Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini as cries for his resignation rang throughout the Bernabeu on Tuesday night after elimination from the Copa was imminent. Perez has pledged patience and a commitment to this project, but the question that has yet to be answered is, just how patient will he be?
As for the game itself, both president and manager were quick to point to the level of anti-football played by Alcorcon but, really, did they expect anything else? A third division club attempting to protect a four goal lead at the Santiago Bernabeu, the style was going to become defensive minded; however, there are no excuses for Real's inability, in both fixtures, to find the back of the net.
Critics were quick to judge Pellegrini's starting eleven, rightfully questioning the placement of certain players. Lass and Arbeloa, the right and left backs, respectively, were both playing out of their natural positions while Gago and Diarra were not able to provide anything from the center of the pitch. Madrid dominated the game and were not short of opportunities, however, in the end UD Alcorcon, a team from the Spanish third division (Segunda B), and not Real Madrid had advanced to the next round of the Copa del Rey.