Real Madrid in real mess after second league loss

After dominating the Spanish league last season, defending

champion Real Madrid was supposed to brush aside its lesser

domestic rivals in this campaign and focus on winning a coveted

10th Champions League trophy.

But after losing its second league match 1-0 at Sevilla on

Saturday, Madrid is reeling only two days before facing Manchester

City in the Champions League.

Coach Jose Mourinho says he ”doesn’t have a team,” forward

Cristiano Ronaldo is ”sad,” and the entire club is wondering what

has so quickly gone so wrong.

Through four rounds, Madrid has just one win to go with a draw

and a pair of losses and already trails pacesetter Barcelona by

eight points as it languishes in the middle of the standings.

Mourinho has to find a quick turnaround as Madrid plays English

titleholder Manchester City on Tuesday in their Champions league

opener, a game that it can ill afford to lose in a challenging

group that includes German champion Borussia Dortmund and Dutch

team Ajax.

”We didn’t expect to have this start,” said Madrid club

spokesman and former star Emilio Butragueno. ”(Eight points) are a

lot of points. We have a very important game on Tuesday. It’s

critical.”

In his first two seasons at Madrid, Mourinho rarely blamed his

players for a bad result. But he has been openly critical of his

squad from week one when it slipped to a home draw with

Valencia.

After its loss at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Saturday he was

brutal in his judgment of his team’s effort, saying that for many

of his players ”football is not a priority.”

”I am worried because since the beginning of the season we have

only played well in the Spanish Supercup (vs. Barcelona), but

nothing else,” said Mourinho, whose team hadn’t dropped this many

points until week 15 last season.

”More than being worried about the points, what worries me at

this moment is that I don’t have a team.”

Madrid-friendly Spanish sports daily Marca’s cover on Sunday

read: ”Eight points from Barca in week four, Mou declares a state

of alarm in Madrid.”

Barcelona, meanwhile, remained perfect through four games after

Lionel Messi scored a brace to take his league-leading tally to six

goals in its 4-1 rout at Getafe on Saturday.

”The gap (with Madrid) is surprising,” said Barcelona

midfielder Sergio Busquets on Sunday. ”But there is still a long

way to go.”

Mourinho said Madrid’s poor form predated Ronaldo’s enigmatic

comments two weeks ago that he wasn’t happy with the Spanish club,

sparking speculation that he was seeking a better contract or even

a move to another team.

”This game wasn’t very different from the other games,”

Mourinho said after the defeat in Seville. ”Therefore I don’t

think it has any relation with the rumor of the last two

weeks.”

Either way, Ronaldo was key to Madrid’s title fight last season

with a club-record 46 league goals. So far this season he has

scored two, both coming against the modest Granada at home when he

showed his displeasure with the club by not celebrating his

goals.

To Mourinho’s chagrin, Madrid has proven to be particularly

vulnerable on set pieces, despite having physical defenders like

Sergio Ramos and Pepe along with imposing midfielders in Sami

Khedira and Xabi Alonso.

Madrid left Sevilla midfielder Piotr Trochowski unmarked to

blast a corner kick into the top of the net two minutes into

Saturday’s match, and then failed to mount a comeback. In previous

rounds, Madrid conceded goals off set pieces in its 1-1 draw with

Valencia and its 2-1 loss at Getafe.

”The problem is the attitude from minute one,” a perplexed

Mourinho said. ”We cannot work more on set pieces. Every player

knows his role, the opponent he has to mark, the zone he has to

cover, and yet we concede a goal just a minute into the game. It is

an image of a team without focus or a willingness to suffer.”

Ramos did not dare contradict his coach’s opinion.

”(Mourinho) is the best at seeing football. It is true that the

moment has arrived to look at what we can improve and what things

we need to change,” he said. ”It is time to change our

attitude.”