Atletico Madrid’s season went from bad to worse on Wednesday as they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Real Sociedad.
A comfortable 2-0 victory for La Real sent them through to the quarter-finals while Atletico are left needing to beat Manchester United in the Champions League last 16 to have any chance of rescuing their season.
Diego Simeone’s team are effectively out of the La Liga title race already given they sit 16 points behind Real Madrid and they were beaten by Athletic Bilbao last week in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup.
The Copa del Rey appeared their only realistic chance of silverware left but instead they were convincingly beaten at the Reale Arena, where goals from Adnan Januzaj and Alexander Sorloth were enough to put the Basque side through.
“Last season was magnificent and this season is proving to be very difficult,” said Simeone. “The opportunities are there, we have the league and the Champions League.”
Atletico Madrid have now managed only two victories in their last eight games in all competitions. In the league they have registered just one clean sheet in seven.
“The only way to improve is to help the players, to give them confidence and peace of mind at this time when the situation is complicated,” Simeone said. “The dynamics are not good but let’s think positively. I am an optimist and I believe in my players.”
Januzaj and Atletico’s Yannick Carrasco both hit the post early on before Januzaj gave Real Sociedad the lead in the 33rd minute when he somehow wriggled in front of three Atletico defenders to head in off the post.
More sloppy defending then gifted the hosts a second as Felipe disastrously tried to turn on the ball when he was Atleti’s furthest man back, and Sorloth robbed it off him before going through to finish.
Real Sociedad join Mallorca, Rayo Vallecano, Cadiz, Valencia and Real Betis in the quarter-finals, with Real Madrid facing Elche and Barcelona playing at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.