MADRID – Real Madrid head coach Santiago Solari dismissed reports he would soon depart from the club after recent back-to-back defeats to archrival Barcelona by saying the capital club had more suitors than a Hollywood actress.
Recent media reports claimed former Real Madrid manager, Portuguese Jose Mourinho, was to return to the capital club to replace the Argentine coach.
“This club has always had more suitors than Julia Roberts, it’s quite normal,” Solari joked at the press conference held at the club facilities in the eve of the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 against the Dutch team Ajax.
The Argentine coach preferred to remain focused on Tuesday’s clash, stressing on the positive side of the situation, although the capital side was handed two consecutive blows in a four-day stretch, both at the hands of archrival Barcelona, who defeated Madrid twice at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
On Feb. 27, Barcelona knocked Madrid out of the Copa del Rey semifinal round, thrashing the hosts 3-0, having played for a 1-1 draw in the first leg. The Catalan team is to defend its cup title in the final match scheduled for May 25 against Valencia at the Benito Villamarin stadium.
Four days later, La Liga leader, Barcelona, topped Real Madrid 1-0 one more time to extend the gap with the third-placed team to 12 points, leaving the capita team with only one title to run for, which is the Champions League.
On the other side, Real Madrid has won the first leg 2-1 in Amsterdam, and aims to extend its domination on the Europe’s elite clubs tournament that the club has won a record of 13 times, including the recent three successive seasons.
In addition, Solari preferred to avoid the controversy regarding his team’s scoring problem after Portugal superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo moved from Madrid to Italy’s Juventus over the summer.
“We talked a long time ago about Cristiano. He’s a living history of this club and all he has done is in there to be seen in the trophy room,” the coach said. “Maximum respect for him and (also) for what we are here; we work as hard as possible to play better and score goals.”
Solari added that the current situation of his team is not only because of the scoring problem, but “it’s a mixture of things. We have to be more clinical and to have more presence,” in rivals area.
The coach also said he feels sorry because the team’s captain and defender Sergio Ramos is to miss Tuesday’s clash as he was ruled to serve a two-match ban over forcing a yellow card in the first leg.
Solari said that Ramos “is a leader” and a very needed player for his character, experience and great influence in his teammates.