MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez said his team need to take a long hard look at themselves and work out what they are doing wrong after Thursday’s humiliating 2-1 loss at third division Cultural Leonesa in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey.
“I hope and want the team to see this loss as a very painful defeat and that it can spur us into action because we cannot allow something like this to happen again,” Saul told reporters.
“I won’t tire of saying it, this is not what Atletico Madrid should be about, this defeat doesn’t represent the team. The fans don’t deserve this, the club doesn’t deserve this.”
Despite fielding a strong side containing Spain international Saul and club-record signing Joao Felix, Atleti could not see off the minnows in 90 minutes as Julen Castaneda cancelled out Angel Correa’s opener to force extra time.
The lowly hosts overpowered the Champions League side in the extra period and a strike from Sergio Benito condemned Atletico to their earliest exit from the Copa since losing to Albacete in 2011, before Diego Simeone took charge of the club.
Atletico, who are third in La Liga and into the last 16 of the Champions League, beat Barcelona 3-2 in the Spanish Super Cup earlier this month and held Real Madrid to a draw in the competition’s final before losing on penalties.
But Saul expressed concern about his side’s recent performances against smaller teams, less than a week after they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at struggling Eibar.
“I’ve been here for seven years and never seen anything like this,” he added.
“We are capable of competing against the best teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona but when we play teams that are not as strong as us we aren’t capable of playing how we need to and we are not as motivated. That has never happened before.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis