Casemiro has called on Real Madrid to put their Clasico thrashing firmly in the past when they travel to face Eibar on Sunday.
A 4-0 defeat to Barcelona last Saturday has left Rafael Benitez’s side six points behind the champions in La Liga and increased the pressure on the head coach’s position.
Madrid responded with a 4-3 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday, in which they almost allowed a four-goal lead to slip in the final 15 minutes after Cristiano Ronaldo had scored twice and set up the other two for Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal.
Casemiro returned to the side for that victory in Lviv after missing the Clasico, but the Brazilian insists he was not angry at sitting out the Barca defeat and has urged his side to put it behind them.
“The Clasico is gone and you have to forget it and look forward. The victory [against Shakhtar] was important and now we have to rest and think about Eibar,” he said.
“I’m not angry for not playing in the Clasico. We have a boss who is a top coach and knows what he is doing. I’m very happy in Madrid and I’ll defend my coach, the players, the president – everyone.”
Eibar themselves have enjoyed a strong run of form since losing to the champions in October, beating both Rayo Vallecano and Getafe at home before securing a creditable point away to Villarreal.
Having not lost at home since a 2-0 reverse to Atletico on September 19 and with Madrid’s form uncertain at present, midfielder Adrian Gonzalez believes now is the best time to face his former club.
“It’s true they’re not in the best form and we know it’s difficult to play here, and this year, we’re doing things right,” he said, as quoted by AS.
“Maybe it’s the best time to play them because things aren’t working out so well for them.
“It’s difficult for anyone to play at Ipurua and we’re in a very positive mood because we are doing well. We have the belief to do something good here.”
Madrid are faced with a defensive headache ahead of the game, with Raphael Varane (thigh) joining Sergio Ramos (shoulder) and Marcelo (hamstring) on the sidelines, while Isco is suspended following his red card against Barca.
Winger Keko is banned for Eibar, while Simone Verdi (hamstring), Jaime Jimenez (back) and Ander Gayoso (knee) are injured.
Key Opta Stats:
– Eibar have lost just one of their last eight La Liga games (W3 D4).
– The Armero side have gone four home games without a defeat (W2 D2). Should they win, this will be their longest winning run in the top flight (three games).
– Real Madrid have lost back to back La Liga games and haven’t lost three in a row in the competition since 2008-09.
– Madrid have won La Liga on two previous occasions after being 6+ points behind the top side. Real Sociedad were seven points ahead on matchday eight in 2003 and Barcelona (MD24) and Sevilla (MD25) were both six points ahead of them in 2007.
– Madrid have lost just one of their 11 La Liga games without Isco (W8 D2) – this was a 1-2 defeat to Barcelona at Camp Nou in October 2013.
– The only season that Cristiano Ronaldo had scored fewer goals after 12 games of the season than this season (8) was in his first season at the club (5).