MADRID – Real Madrid Argentine coach Santiago Solari held on Saturday some of his team’s players responsible for the consecutive defeats they have suffered recently.
Madrid is widely expected to end the season empty-handed, having been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey, while it trails La Liga leader Barcelona by 12 points with 12 matches to go.
“Most of the players have been up to the standard of the shield and those who have not been, were told in person,” Solari said during a press conference on the eve of Sunday’s La Liga game against Valladolid.
Over a little more than a week, Madrid was well positioned in two competitions: The Spanish Cup and Champions League and had a chance to fight for the La Liga title.
However, Madrid has all of a sudden lost three consecutive games over the course of a week; all of them were held at the team’s home ground, the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
First, it was Barcelona who sunk Madrid as the Catalan team prevailed over the capital side 3-0 in the second leg of the Spanish Cup semifinal.
The La Liga schedule gave Madrid a chance to redeem itself before its fans, but once more was defeated by Barça.
A young and bold Ajax added more fuel to Madrid’s fire, eliminating the then three-time defending champion against the odds with a 2-1 deficit in the first leg, by thrashing the Spanish team 4-1 in the second round.
Ahead of that last upset, Madrid’s midfielder Francisco Alarcon, best known as Isco, reportedly refused to get aboard the team bus heading to the Bernabeu after being excluded from the squad.
The player, who has taken part in just 26 matches across all competitions during the season, then apologized, according to local media.
When asked about Isco, Solari said “we handle disciplinary issues internally and in private. On the sporting level as always, no changes. To play, first, you have to be physically fit and then try to harness a competitive edge. It is inevitable.”
After the sudden free-fall, Solari is reportedly set to be fired as early as Monday regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game.
Solari brushed aside talks about his imminent sacking, saying “Our duty tomorrow is to each do our best. It is not the best moment after the other day’s match, but we have a professional duty.”
“We have 12 matches ahead of us and we have to try and reach as high as possible (in La Liga table). Besides, mathematically we still have chances,” Solari said, acknowledging that these chances were slim.