Rafael Benitez under fire after El Clasico hammering

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Benitez was appointed as Real Madrid boss last summer
Benitez was appointed as Real Madrid boss last summer

Rafael Benitez's reign as Real Madrid manager could be brief after his side's humiliating 4-0 hammering at the hands of Barcelona in the first El Clasico of the season.

Reports had suggested that Benitez may be fired if his side lost against Barca and the scale of their defeat has piled pressure on his position.

With Lionel Messi only fit enough to start the match on the bench following an eight-week injury lay-off, Barca made light work of Rafa Benitez's men.

Luis Suarez gave the visitors an 11th-minute lead, Neymar doubled the advantage before the break and in the second period Andres Iniesta scored a goal worthy of his all-action performance. Suarez added a fourth, following a pass from substitute Messi.

This was a second successive defeat following the 3-2 reverse to Sevilla a fortnight ago, with Benitez offering few excuses after the game.

"We are all to blame and now we need to unite and work hard. The thing I'm concerned about the most is recovering the team's spirit," he said.

"Losing like this and against a rival like Barcelona hurts us a lot. We just have to unite and work hard to get three points from our next game so we can stay in the fight for the title.

"We did start how we wanted to. Our aim was to attack, put pressure on them and win the ball back high up the pitch.

"We did it on occasion, but at other moments we couldn't and we were made to pay. We picked a team of top quality and experienced players, but it did not go well.

"When I pick a team I try to manage the squad I have in the best way I can and the team I put out was capable of a lot more quality.

"We are all responsible, but now we have to recover from this and try and give the fans something to celebrate, something we weren't able to do today."

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique savoured a "glorious" El Clasico victory as he claimed his side's performance in their 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu would "go down in history".

"This victory tastes glorious because it is against our eternal rivals and, as well as the victory, it will be very difficult for us to better this performance," Luis Enrique said.

"This game will go down in history, it will be remembered by all Barcelona fans. This squad won the treble last year and it is one of the best squads you could hope for."

Although the victory took Barcelona six points ahead of Madrid at the top of La Liga, the coach was careful to not suggest his side were the favourites to win the title.

"There is still a long way to go and this is by no means decisive, but we leave here feeling very, very satisfied," he said.

"Winning like this against players of such a high level is difficult, but we managed to pull off what we were hoping to do throughout the game.

“I don't think Real Madrid gave up, I just think we were a level above them and we outnumbered them in many areas of the game and we were very effective. The game is more of a reflection of our merits than Madrid's faults."

The coach also explained the decision to wait until the 57th minute before introducing Messi.

He added: "I decided it during the week and I wanted to get feedback from him and it was a relatively easy decision to make, and Leo also understood it."

If Benitez is sacked in the coming days, Zinedein Zidane is widely tipped to take over as Real Madrid boss.