Rafa Benitez had no excuses after watching Real Madrid suffer a humiliating 4-0 home defeat to Barcelona on Saturday that leaves his position as manager under serious threat just 12 games into the season.
Benitez headed into El Clasico facing criticism for excessive tactical caution, and he attempted to answer those complaints by fielding an extremely attacking line-up.
The gamble backfired horribly, however, with Madrid completely lacking in structure and finding themselves outplayed by Barca who ran riot with Luis Suarez scoring a brace and further goals added by Neymar and Andres Iniesta.
Benitez said: “I choose the starting 11 trying to manage in the best way possible the group that I have. We wanted to attack but obviously it did not work out. We all have to be responsible if the game doesn’t go well.”
Both the half-time and full-time whistles were met with an avalanche of jeers towards Benitez and club president Florentino Perez from the furious home fans, and the boss conceded the morale of his players has been badly damaged.
“We have paid for our errors against a very good team which possesses a lot of quality,” he added.
“Now the most important thing is to recover the group, we must get together again as soon as possible.”
Barca boss Luis Enrique, meanwhile, understandably felt nothing but pride at the final whistle.
The encounter is certain to be remembered as one of the most emphatic Clasico victories of all time, and Enrique made it clear he is aware of the stature of his team’s performance as he said: “We are entering into club history. It was a glorious and memorable victory.
“Real Madrid are our eternal rivals and we both want to win the same trophies. It really feels good to have played so much better than them. We did exactly what we set out to do.”
Congratulations to all Barça fans. We have a great team and a great future ahead of us pic.twitter.com/7VpPHr90pK
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) November 21, 2015
Enrique felt the crucial moment was Luis Suarez’s 11th-minute opener, which allowed them to take firm control of the contest.
“We created a lot of chances after the first goal,” he added. “It was a very complete first half and we controlled the game. We’ve given our fans a lot of joy. It was truly memorable.”
He also explained the decision to leave Lionel Messi on the bench, with the Argentine introduced as a 57th minute substitute for his first appearance since September 26.
Enrique said: “I decided over the course of the week. In the end it was an easy decision and Leo understood perfectly.”
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