Juan Mata: Rafa Benitez isn’t defensive

Juan Mata: Rafa Benitez isn’t defensive


Manchester United and Spain playmaker Juan Mata says Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez isn’t defensive and criticism of him is uncalled for.

The Los Blancos manager has come in for criticism in recent days following the 1-1 draw with Atletico de Madrid. Real held a 1-0 lead going into the final stages but rather than go for the killer second goal, the boss removed striker Karim Benzema as he looked to protect the lead. The move backfired as Atletico equalised with seven minutes left on the clock.

Speaking to Cadena Ser, Mata, who played for Benitez briefly when the 55-year-old was in charge of Chelsea, said: “I don’t consider him to be a defensive coach — he’s methodical, strategic and prepares for matches very well. When a Benitez team has to attack, they throw everything into it. He is a manager that lives for football. I had a very good relationship with him. When he was Chelsea manager I had my best year and he gave me a lot of confidence.”

The ex-Valencia man was then asked about hie experiences of playing for different managers having worked under some of the biggest names in the sport.

And he says he enjoyed working with current boss Louis van Gaal. He stated: “He’s very different. After that game on Sunday, Van Gaal was angry, so to speak, but I get on really well with him. He is as you see him in the press conferences — a really direct and honest person, which are qualities you can appreciate. He says what he has to say to your face, whether it’s good or bad. I like him as a coach. I like my managers to be good people and he is.”