If the alarm bells were already ringing around the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu before Saturday’s game, the 1-0 loss to Villarreal has caused them to grow to deafening levels as the club and fans look where to lay the blame.
Although the performance was arguably improved this time around, in comparison to the Clasico at least, it was not enough as the visitors were the second side in a row to leave with a clean sheet and all three points.
It was clear during the match that the fans were pointing the finger at the players, making their distaste known at every available opportunity.
The key change emerging is that those in the upper echelons of the Madrid hierarchy are now firmly on the fans’ side, laying the blame at the dressing room door as this crisis period unfolds.
Publicly, club chiefs make notions of calm and unity, whereas in private there have been growing concerns over how individual desires are taking precedence over the needs of the team.
Real bosses are keenly studying how each player is reacting to moments such as their teammates’ errors, and they don’t like what they are seeing, believing it to be below the standard demanded at the club.
President Florentino Perez made his excursion down to the dressing room as per usual after the game and, as has been the theme for a number of weeks now, continued to ask key players to lead a positive reaction in the face of this glut.
However no such change has been forthcoming as a lack of fitness and clinical finishing, as well as a tendency to stick to their comfort zones, have all been fingered as wrongs that must be righted before a potentially season defining match against Paris Saint-Germain.
Zinedine Zidane maintains that such issues are all down to Madrid’s inability to finish their chances, but the coach knows that a positive reaction must come immediately in the face of both the board’s and the fans’ ire.