Pressure on Zidane after latest Real Madrid debacle

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Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane's future at the club is hanging by a thread following his side's 2-0 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk which leaves their Champions League future in the balance.

The defeat, which comes hot on the heels of Saturday's 2-1 home defeat in La Liga to Deportivo Alaves, leaves Real Madrid third in their qualifying group with just one game to play and needing to beat Borussia Monchengladbach at Valdebebas next Wednesday in order to assure their qualification.

The way things currently stand in an incredibly tight group, Real Madrid could still finish top or bottom and even miss out a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League in the New Year.

However, before next Wednesday's vital game Zidane's side have to travel to play an in-form Sevilla in La Liga on Saturday and failure to win there would put the coach under even more pressure or even see him sacked ahead of the decisive European tie.

Even a win at home to Borussia would not entirely lift the pressure as that game is followed three days later with another key league game as Atletico Madrid visit Valdebebas in the first Madrid derby of the season.

Atletico currently lead Real Madrid by seven points in La Liga and failure to beat Diego Simeone's side could see hopes of defending the league title start to slip away from Zidane's side.

The coach insisted after Tuesday's defeat that he had "no intention" of resigning and he can certainly argue that the loss of key players during the recent run of bad results has hindered his efforts, with Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard and Fede Valverde all missing against Shakhtar and Karim Benzema just back after injury.

However, Zidane's critics point out that even without these players, Madrid's squad is so deep that he had players such as Vinicius Jr, Casemiro, Eder Militao and Isco on the bench on Tuesday and with players such as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Ferland Mendy and Raphael Varane on the pitch, his side at times looked chaotic and slow.

Even with a full squad at Zidane's disposal Madrid have been irregular all season and prior to Tuesday's debacle they had also lost at home to Shakhtar and recently promoted Cadiz and crashed to a 4-1 defeat away to Valencia.

They have also shown they can play good football when at the limit - winning 3-1 away to Barcelona in the Camp Nou when Zidane was under pressure after their first defeat to Shakhtar; outplaying Inter Milan to win 2-0 in Italy a week ago (what a vital win that was with hindsight!) and scoring two late goals to snatch a 2-2 draw in their first game against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Zidane will hope that backs to the wall spirit returns over the next 10 days because although 'club sources' gave him their backing in Spanish sports paper 'Diario AS' on Wednesday morning the coach probably knows that failure to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League is something the club cannot forgive.

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