Third-tier Albacete could
seal the fate of Atletico Madrid coach Gregorio Manzano if they
can capitalise on a 2-1 lead in a King's Cup last-32 second leg
at the Calderon on Wednesday.
Atletico are one of a number of top-flight clubs facing
difficulties in the cup against lower league opposition along
with Levante, Real Betis, Villarreal, Valencia, Espanyol and
Real Zaragoza this week.
Nine-times winners Atletico's season is threatening to fall
apart with their fans in open revolt against the unpopular
Manzano and the board, while the team have been putting in
wildly erratic performances.
Local media are speculating on Luis Aragones, Luiz Felipe
Scolari or Rafa Benitez as possible replacements while former
Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes looks set to be sold to
Sevilla to help finance the change.
Atletico's first home defeat of the campaign, 2-0 against
promoted Betis on Sunday, left the 2010 cup finalists mid-table
in La Liga and with Manzano calling for the fans to get behind
"There is a particular culture here, a sensitivity to slip
ups, and it doesn't benefit the team at all," Manzano told
"Rather than such a hostile atmosphere there needs to be a
sense of balance."
Levante, fourth in La Liga, trail second division Deportivo
La Coruna 3-1 and Betis are 1-0 down against second division
Cordoba. Both play Wednesday.
Valencia return to the Mestalla with the scoreline at 0-0
against third-tier Cadiz on Thursday the same result
Espanyol hold when they host second division Celta Vigo on
Villarreal are at home to third tier Mirandes on Wednesday having drawn 1-1 in the first leg, and coach Juan Carlos
Garrido is feeling the heat.
The team known as the 'The Yellow Submarine' are out of
Europe, are hovering above the relegation places and are without
a win in seven outings.
Zaragoza coach Javier Aguirre is also in the spotlight on
Wednesday when La Liga's basement club entertain second
division Alcorcon with the scores level at 1-1.
Alcorcon famously dumped Real Madrid out of the Cup two
years ago when they were a third-tier side.
There would appear to be little chance of holders Real
slipping up this time as they take a 2-0 lead back to the
Bernabeu against third tier Ponferradina on Tuesday.
Newly-crowned world club champions Barcelona jet back from
Japan in time for their second leg at home to near neighbours
Hospitalet on Thursday.
Pep Guardiola's side, who have lifted five trophies in 2011,
hold a 1-0 first leg advantage and play the last match before
Spain's two week winter break.
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