Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez needs to get his misfiring side back on track quickly for the visit of Barcelona’s ruthless attack in ‘El Clasico’ following another lacklustre display in a 3-2 defeat by Sevilla.
The pressure is growing on the well-travelled Benitez with Real again lacking creativity going forward while they were also fragile defensively.
There were whistles over their sluggish play in the narrow 1-0 victory over Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League last Tuesday and the criticism will only increase following their first defeat of the season.
Real’s next game following the international break is against Barca at the Bernabeu on Nov. 21 with the Catalan side having moved three points clear at the top of the La Liga table while looking ominous in a 3-0 win over Villarreal on Sunday.
“We now have time for the injured players to return. These are unusual types of games (against Barca) and I expect the team to come back well from the defeat,” Benitez told a news conference.
Statistics showed that Cristiano Ronaldo did not touch the ball inside the penalty area against PSG and he again offered little, while Gareth Bale lacked sharpness on his return from injury as Real were second best for long spells against Sevilla.
Benitez’s tactical strength and discipline were reasons why president Florentino Perez brought him in this season but they were surprisingly easily opened up at the back.
“We were unable to manage the game and we thought we were in control when we weren’t,” said Benitez.
“We played well for the first 30 minutes but after that we allowed Sevilla to equalise and then we committed other errors. After that it was a case of who was willing to battle the most but this will serve as a lesson for us.”
Sergio Ramos put Real ahead with a spectacular overhead kick but with him off the pitch having injured his shoulder in the goal, they were exposed at the back by Sevilla’s attacking raids.
James Rodriguez’s performance as a substitute after being out injured for almost two months is a boost for Benitez as he grabbed a consolation for Real deep in injury time with a fine 25-yard strike.