While Madrid remains in turmoil, Barcelona keeps on thriving
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 26, 2015 11:22 AM
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, celebrates with Neymar, center and Dani Alves after Messi scored his team's 5th goal during the Group E Champions League soccer match between Barcelona and Roma at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday Nov. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — It's a good time to be a Barcelona fan. Not so much a Real Madrid one.
While Madrid is embroiled in turmoil and trying to avert a crisis, Barcelona just keeps on winning and impressing.
The Spanish giants couldn't be in more opposite situations.
A day after Madrid's president came out to publicly support coach Rafa Benitez amid widespread discontent from fans, Barcelona thrashed Roma 6-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday for its eighth consecutive victory.
Fans of the Catalan club were celebrating on Wednesday, while Madrid supporters were left wondering if another setback was imminent in the team's Champions League game at Shakhtar Donetsk.
The future is even brighter for Barcelona considering that Lionel Messi is just returning from a long injury layoff.
"The feeling that I have is that we're enjoying ourselves out there on the field," Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic said after the win against Roma advanced his team to the knockout stage of the Champions League for the 12th straight season. "Things are going our way. We need to enjoy this moment."
Barcelona outscored opponents 28-4 in its last eight games, thanks mostly to the great form of strikers Luis Suarez and Neymar in Messi's absence.
Messi started on Tuesday for the first time in nearly two months and scored a pair.
"I enjoyed watching the team, but playing is better," said Messi, who went in as a second-half substitute in the 4-0 rout of Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium last weekend.
The emphatic defeat to its biggest rival was what sparked the crisis at Real Madrid. The team was loudly jeered, and fans demanded the resignation of president Florentino Perez and coach Benitez.
Madrid lost at Sevilla in its previous match, and the effort was poor against Barcelona. Although it's guaranteed a berth in the Champions League last 16, it trails Barcelona by six points in the Spanish league. It is only third in the standings, two points behind city rival Atletico Madrid.
"It's true that we've lost the last two games and that the last one was very important," Benitez said. "And for that reason we're hurting and really eager to bounce back. The best way to give the fans something to shout about is by winning as soon as possible and working hard to do that."
Fans waved white "goodbye" handkerchiefs to show their displeasure toward Benitez after the loss to Barcelona. Perez had to call a news conference on Monday to say he and the board of directors were "fully" behind Benitez, and that the coach was capable of helping the club turn things around.
"The team hasn't collapsed. We're upset about losing to Barcelona, but we have to look forward," Benitez said ahead of the game at Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. "These two defeats mustn't affect the impression of growth offered by this team. In football, you can never guarantee results, but you can guarantee dedication and effort in our fight to give our fans something to shout about."
Barcelona, which won all three competitions it played last season, clearly is having no problem keeping its fans pleased. The only concern is how to keep the momentum going.
"When you see your players have fun out on the pitch, you're happy," Enrique said. "We are in a sweet moment and hope to keep it going as long as possible."
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