Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard admits that in the wake of a 5-1 defeat to Malaga, he faces an uphill battle improving the morale of his players in time for Saturday’s clash with arch-rivals Real Madrid.

Speaking after Wednesday’s 5-1 defeat, Rijkaard was unable to offer an explanation for his team’s feeble capitulation.

“We were punished very severely,” Rijkaard told reporters. “We just couldn’t do anything right out there.

“We made fools of ourselves and created a really poor impression,” he said.

“I felt powerless looking on from the dug-out. We started making mistakes from the very first minute and played without any strength, intensity or determination.”

“We can’t go on like this,” he said.

“However hard it is to digest a defeat like this we have to bounce back. It can’t get any worse.”

It was Barcelona’s heaviest league defeat in nine seasons and with the visit to the Nou Camp of Real Madrid on Saturday, it could hardly have come at a worse time.

In contrast, Real eased to a comfortable 2-0 home win over neighbours Atletico. Goals from Ronaldo and Raul securedthe points and took REal clear at the top of La Liga.

‘This is a great boost ahead of the Barca game,” said Real defender Roberto Carlos.

“If we play to our strengths we have a great chance of winning at the Nou Camp.”