When Real fall to a heavy home defeat from their bitterest rivals, there will definitely be someone who has to carry the can. For the 4-0 defeat on Saturday, where Los Merengues supporters gave a standing ovation to Andres Iniesta and waved white handkerchiefs – there can only be one summation, heads would roll either in January or in the summer.
There are already rumours that Real want to find a club that will pay the cost price of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, though on the evidence of what transpired – his value would have gone down considerably, added to the fact that he is now knocking on 31.
Man for man, Sergio Ramos and Rafael Varane are value and could be compared favourably with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano. Ramos had an injured shoulder and played with the aid of pain killers though that could not mask the fact that he has lost some pace and aggression from his game. Florentino Perez and the board must be looking for another central defender.
Toni Kroos is showing the effects of not having a proper holiday for the past two years while pairing him directly with Luca Modric, against the duo of Sergio Busquet and Iniesta was foolhardy at best. Adding James Rodriguez meant that there was no natural tackler and with no heart to press the ball, the defence was always going to be under incessant pressure.
Benitez knows that he made a mistake bringing in Karim Benzema for the match. He fell for the hype of the ‘BBC’ [Bale, Benzema and Cristiano] but the trident were so off colour that these three players should have been removed. Isco, meanwhile, seems to have his heart set on leaving.
Benitez showed in his line-up that he had allowed himself to be swayed by the fans who wanted attacking football. And a team that had only conceded eight goals prior to Saturday’s match conceded four goals in one fell swoop. And his substitutions showed that he might not be right for this big team. Ramos said Real were closer to Barca during Ancelotti’s reign. “We were closer [with Carlo Ancelotti] as we worked with him for two years, but our relationship with Benitez is good.” (You can translate this in whatever way you want.)
In 12 years at the helm of the biggest football club in the world, Perez has won just two La Liga titles. That in itself is an indication that he is a trial and error president, though very wealthy. His mantra has always been to have the costliest player in the world in his team but over time this has not translated into titles. Yes, he was part of the Decima but he also took the decision to sack Carlo Ancelotti, for no just cause.
Ramos, who played a bad game said afterwards, “We weren’t comfortable against Barcelona, who played a great game. When the result is so big, there’s too many words [reported], but Real Madrid only deal with facts.”
“They [Barcelona] didn’t miss a beat. We didn’t frustrate Barca or put them under enough pressure. They were very comfortable and had a very complete game,” he added.
So what are the facts? Didn’t Benitez plan adequately or did his players not translate his plan into action? The real fact is that at the moment Barcelona may run off with a consecutive title.