Jose Mourinho accused Real Madrid of lacking fight and looking unhappy against Barcelona on Saturday, just as the pressure cranked up on coach Santiago Solari after a second successive El Clasico defeat.
Mourinho has been among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Solari, as Madrid have been knocked out of both the Copa del Rey and, realistically, LaLiga’s title race within four days.
The fact that both losses came at the hands of Barcelona, and at the Santiago Bernabeu, compounds the misery.
After losing 3-0 in the cup on Wednesday, Madrid were inferior again in the rematch, as Ivan Rakitic’s delightful chip earned Barcelona a 1-0 win.
“I think it was not a happy performance,” Mourinho said as a pundit for bEIN Sports. “It was not the performance of a happy team, of a team with great belief and self-esteem.
“Clearly they are now in a zone after a few bad results, especially after the cup match, where they are in a low. They couldn’t bring to the game what I used to call the temperature of the big matches. They were passive.
“I cannot speak about a bad performance, it is just a soft performance. Sometimes you play like this against medium teams and in the end, you get a positive result, but against the top teams you have to do a lot more than this if you want to win.”
Former Real Madrid president Roman Calderon has claimed Mourinho will take over in the summer.
‘We will fight for it’
Many will see Mourinho’s comments as conveniently timed given Solari now appears particularly vulnerable.
When Solari took charge in November, Madrid were seven points behind Barcelona but that gap now stands at 12. They have also lost three consecutive games at home for the first time in 15 years.
“Football is about being clinical and they were much more clinical,” said captain Sergio Ramos. “It is true with the consistency Barca are showing, they have increased the gap on us again and taken another important step towards winning the league.”
Madrid’s season, and perhaps Solari’s future, will again depend on them winning the Champions League. They carry a 2-1 lead into the second leg at home to Ajax on Tuesday.
“We need the league for fitness and rhythm so we must continue working and keep winning games,” Ramos said. “We have another final in the Champions League on Tuesday and we will fight for it. In the league, we will try to reduce the gap.”