BARCELONA • The feel-good factor from Barcelona and Real Madrid's solid starts to the season has all but dissipated after the two LaLiga giants crashed to their first league defeats of the new campaign, leaving their managers angered by their players' collective lack of desire.
Barca manager Ernesto Valverde denied his decision to rest key players for the shock 2-1 loss at Leganes on Wednesday had backfired before admitting that the LaLiga champions had fallen into a "very difficult moment".
Gerard Pique was the culprit after his fluffed clearance allowed Oscar Rodriguez to score Leganes' second goal in two minutes.
Nabil El Zhar nodded in an equaliser just 68 seconds earlier to reduce Philippe Coutinho's sumptuous volleyed opener to little more than a footnote.
After Sunday's 2-2 home draw with Girona, albeit with 10 men, Valverde's selection came under scrutiny after he opted to rotate for the second time in three days.
Against Girona, it was Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti on the bench, while at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba were surprisingly only named as substitutes.
Both were thrown on in the second half, but it was to no avail as the hosts clung on for their first top-flight victory over Barca.
"Of course the coach is responsible, a losing coach always feels responsible," Valverde said.
"But obviously it is easy now to talk about the rotations, in the end, matches are analysed on results, you can't win the league with only 11 players."
Barca face Athletic Bilbao in the league tomorrow, followed by Tottenham at Wembley in the Champions League four days later, and the team's form is of concern, with only one point from two of LaLiga's lesser lights.
So is the mind frame of Pique, who was also at fault against Girona, and will have to start against Spurs, with Samuel Umtiti suspended.
But Sergio Busquets refused to point the finger at the former Spain defender, saying: "You have to judge the whole team, not individuals. There are no excuses. We have to concede fewer goals and be more solid.
"Today, the league isn't lost but we might miss these three points at the end of the season."
The mood was equally grim in the Spanish capital after Real Madrid crashed to a limp 3-0 LaLiga away loss to Sevilla on Wednesday, with coach Julen Lopetegui bemoaning his side's inability to carry out his instructions.
Sevilla blitzed Real through Andre Silva, who scored twice in four first-half minutes, while Wissam Ben Yedder added another as the European champions conceded three league goals before the break for the first time since 2003.
"We didn't play as we wanted and we paid for it in the first half. We came here with a plan of pressing them and we didn't do it as we'd have liked to, that's clear," Lopetegui told a news conference.
"In the end, you can say it was a very bad performance from us and a very good one from Sevilla."
Real's sixth defeat in seven league visits to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium was the worst possible warm-up for tomorrow's crunch game against cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. The Super Cup winners are two points behind, coming off two straight wins.
"The derby is a huge game and you never want to lose it, we have to lift ourselves up and try to win," ex-Atletico goalkeeper and summer signing Thibaut Courtois said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS