Rafael Benitez has rubbished suggestions he has a defensive mindset at Real Madrid.
The Argentine’s strike was just the second goal Real have conceded in nine games under Benitez, but they were again thankful to goalkeeper Keylor Navas as he saved Antoine Griezmann’s first-half penalty and made a brilliant stop from Jackson Martinez in stoppage time.
“Playing against an Atlético side looking to find their way, Madrid took an early lead and then “defended with the ball” – a new expression that translates as “hanging on to the ball” with limited attacking ambition, and preventing the opponent form securing possession”.
“I don’t take him off because he guarantees goals so I try to leave him on whenever I can. If you ask me, yes, I’d say he’s the best in the world”.
“I am not anxious that people call me defensive, I am more annoyed that we dropped two points”, he insisted.
“I’m calm and will continue to work so I’m not always subtituted”.
Spanish paper Marca were also less than impressed with Benitez following Real’s draw at the Vicente Calderon.
They are, however, ahead of title rivals Barcelona on goal difference.
“I didn’t tell the team to sit back“.
Benitez shrugged off the criticism that followed the derby stalemate and insisted his immediate focus is working with the players not on worldwide duty. I have come here from Napoli where we scored 104 goals, so I am not going to be defensive with Madrid. There are less troubles than what I read. A team that creates chances, and is great in possession is not defensive. “I think it is an important point but the feeling is that we could have won”.