Real Madrid in disarray after Barcelona Clasico demolition
Players apologise after 4-0 defeat, but Rafa Benitez under pressure amid claims of a dressing room mutiny
Real Madrid stars have been lining up to apologise to their fans after they were humiliated in front of their own fans by arch rivals Barcelona in one of the most one-sided El Clasico encounters for years. The match leaves coach Rafa Benitez in danger of losing his job just five months after he took over.
Barcelona ran out 4-0 winners at the Bernabeu as Luis Suarez scored twice and Neymar and Andres Iniesta also found the net in a dominant display.
Afterwards, defenders Sergio Ramos and Marcelo asked for fans' forgiveness as Benitez, whose uncharacteristic team selection featuring four forwards backfired spectacularly, said his side needed to "get over" the result.
Real now lie third in La Liga, six points behind Barcelona and two shy of their city rivals Atletico, and the supporters made their anger evident during the match.
Much of the fans' ire was directed at president Florentino Perez, claims the Daily Mail, but that was partly because he was responsible for hiring Benitez.
"The club were briefing on Sunday that his position is safe for now but after such a humbling there seems little chance he will stay beyond the summer," says the paper.
To make matters worse for Benitez, Spanish newspaper Marca reports that many of the Real squad dislike him and his methods. There have even been claims that players avoid the area of the pitch near the bench during games.
"If the dressing room were to vote about whether they wanted him to remain at the helm, he'd be lucky if five or six players voted in his favour. It'd be a landslide 'No' victory," says the paper.
Such is the furore that Zinedine Zidane, the coach of Real Madrid's second team, has been forced to temper talk that he is set to step up to the senior job, reports The Guardian.
"Once the game had begun, virtually the only applause of the night came for Isco when he was sent off six minutes from the end for a wild hack at Neymar," says Sid Lowe in The Observer. "At least someone had done something, they seemed to be saying. At least the sense of impotence and inferiority had hurt him. Others had been simply indolent."
By contrast Barcelona were vibrant and so confident that they were able to leave Lionel Messi on the bench as he returned from two months out with a knee injury. When he did come on with half an hour to play it was "to take part in and enjoy a destruction that had been carried out in his absence", says Lowe