Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti blamed his players for being too individualistic following their surprise 1-0 defeat at mid-table Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Saturday.
The pressure on the Italian has been growing since Real were hammered 4-0 by Atletico Madrid at the start of February and his team again lacked drive and a battling edge especially in the first half against Bilbao.
Real have now won just two of their last five league games and, while they still lead La Liga by two points, Barcelona can overtake them with victory at home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
“We were too individualistic and the players were looking to find solutions on their own when we needed to play quicker and with fewer touches,” Ancelotti told a news conference.
Aritz Aduriz headed Bilbao in front after 26 minutes and Real were able to create little at the other end despite the quality they have in attack.
“There was too much confusion to what we were doing,” added Ancelotti. “We were too slow and did not move the ball around well so that there was no space for the forwards. It is a problem over the time between the pass and the movement.
“It was an even game. Athletic defended well, they were compact and they scored. Our problem is not defensive but in attack and we are not finding openings.”
Ancelotti said that Real also found it difficult to score in last weekend’s draw against Villarreal.
“In two games we have got one goal and that was a penalty. This is what we have to solve,” he said.
“I accept my responsibility. Some people may say that this isn’t their team but this is mine. The team is playing badly and the league is more difficult for us now but it is not yet over.”
In two weeks’ time Real play in El Clasico against Barcelona at the Camp Nou and Ancelotti will be keen to see his team return to the form that saw them put together a Spanish record 22-match winning streak before Christmas.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale look a shadow of the attacking trident that terrorised teams at the end of 2014 but Ancelotti refused to blame anyone directly for the loss.
“They didn’t have a good game but the failure was not of the three. Everyone is responsible for the attack and to carry out their own work,” he said. (Editing by Ken Ferris)