Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has conceded defeat ahead of his injury-and-suspension-hit squad’s trip to play arch rivals Barcelona next weekend.
The Primera Liga champions slipped to fifth after Sunday’s 4-3 defeat to Sevilla at the Bernabeu, nine points behind Barcelona.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben will miss Saturday’s game at the Nou Camp because of his red card against Sevilla and key players such as centre back Pepe, midfielder Ruben de la Red and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy are still out injured.
“It’s impossible to win at (Barca’s) stadium,” Schuster said at a news conference.
“They are devastating. I think it is their year,” he added. “We will try to put on a good show. We won’t be able to do more than that.”
To compound Schuster’s woes, the club confirmed on Monday that Mali midfielder Mahamadou Diarra would be out for six to nine months because of a right knee injury and winger Royston Drenthe limped out of training, also with a knee problem.
Defeat, or even failure to win, against Barcelona would increase the pressure on both Schuster and club president Ramon Calderon, who endured a heated general assembly meeting in Madrid on Sunday.
One piece of good news for Schuster is that midfielder Wesley Sneijder returned to training on Monday after he missed the defeat to Sevilla with a muscle strain.