The Real Madrid coach was criticised for handing Atletico Madrid the initiative as they came back to draw 1-1 on Sunday but blames the opposition’s good performance
Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez has rejected arguments that he is a defensive coach, pointing again to the fact that his Napoli side scored 104 times last season.
The former Chelsea and Liverpool manager has seen his approach questioned following a 1-1 derby draw with Atletico Madrid on Sunday, when he replaced striker Karim Benzema with midfielder Mateo Kovacic when his side were 1-0 up with 13 minutes to go.
The move appeared to hand Atletico the initiative and Luciano Vietto duly grabbed an equaliser in the closing stages – just the second goal that Madrid have conceded in seven Primera Division games this season.
“Do you believe I told the team to sit that deeply?” Benitez replied when asked on radio show ‘El Larguero‘ about the thought process behind the change.
“I come from a Napoli team who scored 104 goals. Do you think I’m going to be hyper-defensive with Real Madrid? A team that creates chances and is great in possession is not defensive.
“Another matter is if Atletico oblige you to defend. This was not something we’d practised. We sent on Kovacic to strengthen the wing but Atleti pushed and pushed.”
Benitez shrugged off the criticism that followed the draw and insisted that his immediate focus is working with the players who are not on international duty.
He added: “I’ve been made aware that there was some [criticism] but I’m focused on coaching the few players that remain. I don’t read the press that much.
“The important aspect is what we have done and what I say to my people. I don’t suffer when I read the press. There are certain matters that are out of my remit.”