Real cancel pre-match press conference as war of words exposes continuing dressingroom rift

Mourinho and senior players remain at loggerheads

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho (right) greets  Miroslav Djukic of Real Valladolid CF last week. Photograph: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho (right) greets Miroslav Djukic of Real Valladolid CF last week. Photograph: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Sat, May 11, 2013, 00:10

Real Madrid decided against holding their traditional pre-match news conference yesterday in an apparent attempt to defuse the war of words between coach Jose Mourinho and members of his squad.

Real visit Espanyol tonight when a failure to win would gift leaders Barcelona their fourth La Liga title in five years. Even if Real do triumph, Barca only need two more points to secure the trophy, which they could achieve at third-placed Atletico Madrid tomorrow.

Mourinho’s dig at captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas a week ago, followed by defender Pepe’s subsequent defence of his team mate last Saturday, has brought divisions within the dressing room to the fore.

Club president Florentino Perez took the rare step of entering the fray on Monday to call for unity for the last three weeks of the season, but Mourinho ignored his request and spoke out against Casillas and Pepe again on Tuesday.

The Bernabeu crowd cheered Casillas’s name when it was read out among the substitutes before the 6-2 La Liga victory over Malaga on Wednesday, while Mourinho’s was met with whistles and jeers from a large section of the stadium.

Spanish internationals Xabi Alonso and Raul Albiol have both appealed for club unity ahead of the King’s Cup final against Atletico Madrid on May 17th, which will be the side’s last chance for major silverware this season.

Mourinho’s future in Madrid, despite him having a contract until 2016, has been the subject of a great deal of speculation as rumours of a move to Chelsea persist.