MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid have romped to some massive wins against lowly opponents this season but coach Rafa Benitez and his expensively-assembled squad have still to prove themselves against quality teams.
Sunday’s 10-2 demolition of nine-man Rayo Vallecano in La Liga, when Gareth Bale hit four goals for the first time in his career, came hard on the heels of Real’s 8-0 destruction of Malmo in the Champions League.
They have also beaten Espanyol 6-0 and Real Betis 5-0 in La Liga but have yet to put on a genuinely impressive performance against any of their title rivals in Spain or Europe.
The biggest blow, which heaped more pressure on Benitez after the previous week’s 3-2 defeat at Sevilla, was Real’s stinging 4-0 reverse to arch rivals Barcelona in last month’s La Liga ‘Clasico’.
Real were lucky to beat Paris St Germain 1-0 in the Champions League earlier that month, following a 0-0 draw in the French capital in October, and last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Villarreal marked another failure in the Spanish top flight.
Real president Florentino Perez has insisted Benitez, who took over from the sacked Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season, is the right man for the job.
However, there have been persistent reports that the former Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli manager does not get on with some of his key players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez.
Benitez also appears to have been blamed for Real’s expulsion from the King’s Cup for fielding an ineligible player against third-tier Cadiz and fans at the Bernabeu again whistled when his name was read out before the Rayo game.
Whistles also swirled around the stadium when Rayo fought back from a goal down to take a 2-1 lead, but after they had two players sent off Real steamrollered their city rivals to hit double figures in a La Liga game for the first time since 1960.
Benitez said the way to win over the fans was to score goals and win matches.
“The supporters are unhappy at certain moments in games and what we have to do is change their opinion with victories and goals,” he told a news conference.
“We all saw that after the 1-0 we weren’t playing well but it was only a brief lapse,” he added. “Later we did what we had to do.”
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis)