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Real Madrid dressing room backs Zidane after Copa catastrophe

5:48 AM GMT+8 26/01/2018
Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid Villarreal
Following the lead of captain Sergio Ramos, the Blancos have shown their coach unconditional support despite Wednesday's shock upset

The Real Madrid dressing room has closed ranks around Zinedine Zidane as the coach struggles through the worst crisis of his short tenure as Merengue coach. 

Wednesday's Copa del Rey defeat to Leganes sent shockwaves through the club, leaving an unsightly wound in a Madrid side that is already reeling due to their chronic underachievement in La Liga so far this season. The circumstances of defeat, in front of a bemused Santiago Bernabeu and to a less-than-illustrious rival, only heightens the feeling of disaster around the Spanish capital, with Zidane taking the brunt of criticism for the Copa exit. 

Zizou, a Merengue legend as a player and with two Champions Leagues to his name as coach, holds just two cards in his favour: Madrid's continuity (so far) in this year's Champions League and the trust of all-powerful president Florentino Perez. 

No surprise, then, that for the first time in his two years at the helm names of possible successors are being openly discussed. Not, however, in the Blanco dressing room. Sergio Ramos, captain and unofficial spokesman for this team, set the tone in Wednesday's mixed zone as the vultures were already beginning to swoop.

"We are with the coach," Ramos underlined to reporters, in a short message that says everything. The Madrid dressing room has rallied round Zidane in his hour of need, at a point where his selections and tactics were badly shown up at a pivotal time.

"We are all on his side. He has made us win everything," Goal heard from within the club, an emphatic message of support. Not, of course, that every player at the club is as pleased with Zidane. 

Isco for one failed to hide his frustration on Wednesday upon being substituted, although that anger was short-lived. But once inside the dressing room everyone is on Zidane's side, and vice versa. The coach has total confidence in the squad which has remained largely unchanged during his tenure, and always has done. 

It was the Frenchman who first tried to break the tension after the Copa elimination. A natural optimist, he asked his troops to look ahead from the off. The only thing on Madrid minds now is the Champions League, and Zidane is making that as clear as possible. 

That was the message in the dressing room on that bleak Wednesday evening, and also the theme of Madrid's training session the following day. Europe is Madrid's last hope of glory in 2017-18 - and Zidane is going all out to make that happen.

"If we don't believe in ourselves, nobody will," a source from Madrid explained. 

"Right now we're f***ed, but we will learn from this. There is still a chance to finish the year on the high. Not every year is going to be like last year, it would be too easy to follow Real Madrid if that were the case. Now we have to stick together and give it our all."

Those words are like a mantra in the Bernabeu. The entire Madrid dressing room is determined to bounce back after that Leganes defeat, and nobody more than Zidane.