Santiago Solari said Real Madrid have “hundreds of millions of fans” after his side beat Leganes 3-0 at a half-empty Santiago Bernabeu.
Low crowd numbers have been a feature Madrid’s season and there were swathes of empty seats on show for Wednesday’s last-16 Copa del Rey tie, with just 44,231 people in attendance for the first leg.
Sergio Ramos opened the scoring with the 100th goal of his career for club and country before Lucas Vazquez and the impressive Vinicius Junior wrapped up the win.
But Solari, whose side went down 2-0 at home to Real Sociedad in front of another small attendance in LaLiga on Sunday, faced questions about seemingly falling support.
“Real Madrid have hundreds of millions of fans around the world, in all countries,” Solari told his post-match news conference. “Wherever you go, there is one.
“Not everyone can go to the Bernabeu. Real Madrid is the global brand of football. There are always people watching. We always feel encouraged.
“I repeat: there are hundreds of millions of Real Madrid fans around the world. We always feel accompanied.”
Real Madrid 3-0 Leganes pic.twitter.com/RApOAdWKv8
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) January 9, 2019
Despite being without Thibaut Courtois (hip), Gareth Bale (calf), Mariano Diaz (sciatica), Marco Asensio (hamstring), Toni Kroos and Marcos Llorente (both adductor) for the Leganes game, Solari still left Isco on the bench.
Spanish newspapers reported Isco had liked a tweet that was critical of Solari’s team selection with youngsters Dani Ceballos and Federico Valverde preferred, although it was later not showing on his profile.
The Spain international has been on the fringes for Madrid since Solari replaced Julen Lopetegui in October but the coach shrugged off Isco’s absence, having used his first substitution to bring on the playmaker.
“There are 24 players in the squad,” Solari said. “Part of my job is deciding who plays. Surely the least pleasant [decision].
“I’m not going to give you the team for next weekend. There are several days left. You have to see how they recover. The system is 4-3-3. It is a system used before.
“There are other systems, yes. As I said before. The most ungrateful job is to do the selections.”
Asked again why Isco did not start, Solari replied: “Today we have played a very good match.”
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