Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez believes that his side are favourites to win the first El Clasico of the season against FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Rafa Benitez’s Real Madrid side were knocked off the La Liga summit after suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan a couple of weeks ago. They head into the weekend’s Clasico 3 points adrift of opponents FC Barcelona.

Rafa Benitez has come under criticism from some sections of the Real Madrid faithful for his pragmatic approach to the game. Several reports coming out of Spain in the past few weeks have claimed that some of the senior members of the Real Madrid squad are unhappy with the methods of Rafa Benitez.

As he heads in to his first Clasico as the manager of Real Madrid, Rafa Benitez will be under immense pressure to deliver nothing else than all 3 points against the champions of Spain.

Real Madrid are Favorites for El Clasico insists Rafa Benitez

Speaking to the media ahead of Real Madrid’s pivotal match up against champions FC Barcelona, Rafa Benitez insisted that his side are favourites to win the Clasico on Saturday.

“We are playing in our stadium with our fans, so I think Madrid are the favourites,” said Benitez (via skysports.com). “We are confident from what we have seen in training. It will be a difficult game, but a great one for the fans.”

“Obviously we’re up against a great team but we’re confident going into the game and I think we’re going to do a great job,” he added.

“It’s my first ClA?sico with the first team. The team come into it in good shape; they’re excited and looking forward to it. We’re aware of the importance of any game against Barcelona and of getting all three points. The same is on the line for me as for Real Madrid as a whole: three very important points to be up there challenging for the title right to the end”.

Asked about his side’s philosophy heading into the first Clasico of the season, Benitez was quoted by the Mirror saying, “Real Madrid has a way of playing and that is to try and win by scoring more goals than the opposition.”

“The most attacking team is the one that has the most shots and scores the most goals and if you look, that is Real Madrid.”

Under pressure Benitez in defiant mood ahead of his first Clasico

After two unconvincing performances against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League and a defeat to Sevilla in La Liga, the pressure is well and truly on Rafa Benitez as he heads into his first Clasico as the manager of Real Madrid.

Benitez has come under sporadic criticism from some sections of the media for his defensive approach to football. Rumours of discontent amongst some of the senior players in the squad such as Ronaldo, Ramos and Pepe is not helping matters for the former Liverpool and Valencia manager.

A defiant Rafa Benitez came out and rubbished these reports in his pre match press conference ahead of the all important Clasico.

A convincing win over bitter rivals FC Barcelona will be a perfect way for Benitez to silence his critics – atleast for the time being.