Jose Mourinho, in particular, spoke at length about the draw's impact on his team's quest to retain their La Liga crown, saying of Barcelona's lead (which did indeed grow to 13 points by the end of yesterday's fixtures):
"It's practically impossible. It's 10 points which could become 13. Thirteen points in December are a lot. We had eight last year and despite drawing two matches we maintained that distance."
"I have never seen a situation like this before, losing so many points, and having a team so far from its objectives. It's new for me, but I am not about to give up. I am not going to make a drama of it. We will seek to finish the season in the best way possible. We have titles within our reach and we have to fight for them, but the league is almost impossible now."
Ever the master manipulator, it is difficult to tell whether this was raw candor by a somewhat humbled manager or last-ditch motivational psychology administered via the press. We can all have opinions as to which, but only the players can truly react and change the course of this narrative.
He then addressed the players directly, saying:
"I think that it has to come every man for himself. It is a matter of professional pride and of each individual’s ambition that each player has to think about. You're not happy, you do not enjoy what’s happening, you lose too many times and you are far from the aims you had but you still have others. Real Madrid, just for being Real Madrid, always have to fight for every match and I think that is what you need to get yourself ready for. Without any cheap philosophy or nonsense. This is about the individual pride of each person wanting the best for himself and his club"
"Cristiano played well but his team-mates didn't. The attitude has been good and what we need is a bit of calm and luck. For the effort of the players we deserved to win but we wasted clear cut chances."
The boss then went on to single Luka Modric out for a different reason, telling reporters:
"Modric is still having some small problems, especially when playing two consecutive matches in three days. Each time we pick him twice in a row his performance has not been the best."
Mourinho gave some insight into his thinking regarding the decision to substitute Modric in favor of Angel di Maria at the end of the first half:
"I was a bit sorry to bring him off because he was not playing badly nor did he deserve to be taken off. I took a strategic decision. I thought putting Di Maria on and opening up the flanks could help the team. And it did, because I think that in the second half the team produced more attacking football. So that is why I was sorry to take off Luka, but it was for strategic reasons."
Di Maria did influence the match after his introduction, but he was also involved in a handful of missed opportunities that have become all-to-common features of his erratic performances this year.
"These things can happen if we don’t lock down the match. We controlled the game a lot but we didn’t sentence it. We ceded another goal in a set piece at the end of the game with hardly any time to react."
"It would be a mistake to throw away La Liga at this stage of the season. I wish this streak turns around and we have more luck. The only thing that changes are results, every player on the team still demands the same from himself. We shouldn’t throw the season away, it would be a mistake to dwell on this draw. It’s obvious that you’re not happy when you don’t win, but if we’re united when we win then we also have to be united now"
Callejon said that Los Blancos "dominated," noting with frustration that Espanyol defended deep, another recurring pattern in this season, as teams are systematically defending deep and daring Madrid to unlock their defense with ingenuity and creativity--an ingenuity and creativity that this talent laden side is currently struggling to generate on a consistent basis.
What are your thoughts on these comments and the state of the team today?