Rafa Benitez talks down reports of player unrest ahead of El Clasico

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Rafa Benitez‘s first season in charge at Real Madrid has not been all smooth sailing, but he has a chance to right the ship on Saturday when Real hosts Barcelona in El Clasico.

[ MORE: El Clasico preview ]

Real currently sits second in La Liga, three points behind Barcelona. However, rumors of unrest between players and manager have continued to surface throughout the early stages of this season.

The most recent rumors were that players are unhappy with Benitez’s defensive style of play, with reports that Cristiano Ronaldo said “With this coach we will not win anything.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of Saturday’s Clasico, Benitez dismissed these claims, and said his side is “extra-motivated” to face Barcelona.

I respect your profession, the work you do, the message you pass on to the fans and sometimes you have to look for a story where there is no story. It’s not true.

I have worked as a coach for many years and so far it has worked.

The players are extra motivated for this game and they are a very professional group. Big players like to play in big games against big clubs. There is extra motivation this week so I am very optimistic going into this game.

Benitez also went on to say that his side would play attacking football against Barcelona, as many complained of Real playing too conservatively in their loss to Sevilla. Despite those claims of playing conservatively, Real leads La Liga with 26 goals through 11 matches.

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Not even a third of the way through the season, Benitez has consistently been under heavy fire at Madrid. A win at home against Barcelona on Saturday would surely silence some of the criticism…at least for the time being.