Boudewijn Zenden believes Real Madrid’s 4-0 Clasico loss to Barcelona will continue to hurt coach Rafael Benitez for some time.
Barcelona ran out comfortable winners at the home of their bitter rivals in November and, despite a string of emphatic wins since then at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Madrid faithful have fostered a frosty relationship towards Benitez.
Displeasure from the stands was clear at regular intervals during Sunday’s match against Rayo Vallecano, despite Real coming from behind to thrash their beleaguered nine-man opponents 10-2.
Former Barcelona and Netherlands midfielder Zenden is well-versed in the impact Clasico results can have on each of the Spanish giants’ fortunes but believes recent matches show accusations that Benitez is an overly cautious coach are wide of the mark.
“Madrid are driven by results and the defeat to Barca will haunt him for quite some time,” Zenden told Omnisport.
“It makes it hard for any manager. He has to close the gap to Barcelona.
“Benitez teams look defensive but how can he be defensive if he’s scored the most goals [in La Liga] this season?
“He works the players tactically and makes them solid as a unit.”
Zenden has experience of Benitez’s methods while under pressure, having served as his assistant during a controversial spell as interim manager at Chelsea.
The ex-Liverpool boss was appointed as the short-term successor to Roberto Di Matteo at Stamford Bridge in November 2012.
It was a deeply unpopular move with Chelsea supporters but Benitez managed to guide the club to Champions League qualification and glory in the Europa League.
“We won the Europa League and did well in the league,” Zenden added.
“Defeat in the Club World Cup [final, 1-0 to Corinthians] was disappointing.
“Fixture congestion was a nightmare. He did well despite no-one wanting him there.”