Real Madrid have decided to circle the wagons and close ranks after weeks of being battered by the media and their own supporters.
The reigning European and world champions have not been able to replicate the form that saw them win 22 straight matches in all competitions prior to the New Year. In recent weeks, Madrid have been leapfrogged in the league standings by Barcelona, whistled and jeered at home; and have heard their manager’s future at the club be brought into question by the Spanish press.
Following last week’s 4-3 Champions League defeat to Schalke 04, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez elected to hold an impromptu press conference after the Spanish publication Marca ran a story claiming Carlo Ancelotti would be sacked if his team duplicated another “debacle” during the upcoming El Clasico.
Perez defended his manager and players while asking Real Madrid supporters to rally behind the team during its difficult moment. The club president also pointed an accusatory finger at the media for attempting to “destabilize” the team.
Programming note: Soccer fans in the US, watch el Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid on Sunday, March 22 at 4PM ET on beIN SPORTS. If you don’t get beIN SPORTS, watch it live (and legally) via DishWorld for just $10/month for La Liga, Serie A, Ligue Un coverage and more. Watch DishWorld on your phone, computer, tablet or Roku. Plus, in addition to La Liga, Serie A and more, you’ll get Chelsea TV, Arsenal TV, Bayern Munich TV and more.
Now it is understood that team captain Iker Casillas and vice-captain Sergio Ramos want to protect the team from any further attacks from the media, while also safeguarding against any player differences which could be brewing within the squad.
According to reports in Spain, the veteran leaders have instructed their teammates to close ranks in order to shut out the media, and set aside any personal differences they may have in order to ensure the team will be fully focused and more effective for this weekend’s massive encounter against Barcelona.
Casillas and Ramos have stressed the importance of resurrecting Madrid’s season – which began so promisingly – starting with Sunday’s first place showdown at the Camp Nou.
To this point, the players have maintained a united front and have not allowed any negative news to find its way onto the back pages of Spanish newspapers.
Whether or not the captains’ strategy will work to Madrid’s favor will be determined on Sunday.
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