Real Madrid suffered a major setback to their Spanish title hopes when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Real Betis on Saturday, handing Barcelona the opportunity to open an 11-point gap over their bitter rivals on Sunday. Jose Mourinho's side remain eight points behind leaders Barcelona and five off city rivals Atletico who they host in the Madrid derby next Saturday.
Betis midfielder Benat Etxebarria's third goal of the season decided the game.
An angry Mourinho spared hardly anyone from his criticism following the defeat. "It's obvious that playing on Wednesday night (in Champions League) we should not have done so today. Other people control the calendar, but I am the one who then has to talk about it," he said. "I am the bad man in that respect," he commented, before turning his attention to the team. "We are talking about top level players, when they are tired it is normal for them to find other qualities, such as mental strength and a willingness to make sacrifices. When I saw (Radek) Stepanek who is 34-years-old, play three games in three days in the final of the David Cup (tennis), I could see he would die to win for his country and I thought men who are 23, 24 or 26 can play two games on Wednesday and Saturday. Your heart counts in sport, not just your legs and when you have a will to do something, you pick yourself up," he said.
Swansea hold Reds
There were no goals but no shortage of goalmouth action as the return of Brendan Rodgers produced a lively 0-0 draw between Swansea City and Liverpool on Sunday. The former Swansea manager saw his Liverpool side fashion half a dozen genuine opportunities against a Swansea team who were equally inventive. In the end, it was a case of close but not close enough as the sides shared the points.