Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Should Los Blancos sack Solari?

Santiago Solari is said to be short on credit when it comes to keeping the Real Madrid job - but should the club keep its faith in him?

Santiago Solari signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Real Madrid after Julen Lopetegui's dismissal.   -  Getty Images

Having done well to win over a number of doubters, Santiago Solari's future is once more starting to look bleak.

A shock home defeat to Girona left it nine points behind La Liga leader Barcelona last month, meaning anything but a win in Saturday's Clasico will all but end its title challenge.

If this game were not important enough, it comes just three days after Madrid was humbled by its fierce rival at the Santiago Bernabeu, losing 3-0 in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal, as Barca reached a sixth final in a row.

It all means the pressure is mounting on Solari, who signed a two-and-a-half-year contract only last November in the wake of Julen Lopetegui's dismissal.

Should Madrid keep faith in its former midfielder, or is it time for yet another change? Two writers go head-to-head over the issue...

SOLARI HAS EARNED A FULL SEASON (By Joe Wright)

Whether he likes it or not, Florentino Perez must now accept that it is the Real Madrid squad that needs overhauling, not the coaching staff.

A lack of depth has been laid bare this season, as the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo's goals have seen them fall well short of a title challenge and endure yet more disappointment in the Copa del Rey.

The dream of a fourth consecutive Champions League is alive, but Solari should be given the chance to oversee a season from scratch regardless of whether he ends this one as a European champion.

READ | Real Madrid, Solari face make-or-break El Clasico

Solari has shown he can handle the glare of the Santiago Bernabeu spotlight, conducting himself with dignity in a difficult season, most notably after that humbling at the hands of Barca this week.

Those peculiar problems with Marcelo and Isco have not exactly been bright spots, but the progress of Marcos Llorente and Sergio Reguilon this season - not to mention Vinicius Junior - shows Solari is the right man to develop Madrid's youngsters and foster some harmony in the squad if it's filled with players he believes in. Why disrupt that process by putting another outsider in the dugout?

Although an unglamorous pick among many Madrid fans, Solari is a steady hand that could be crucial if Perez does decide to indulge in some blockbuster transfer spending. They might have to watch Barca romp to another title this year, but if that allows Solari the time to plan for a full tilt at glory next term, then it's a bullet they simply have to bite.

MADRID IN STATE OF FLUX  (By Peter Hanson)

Even for a club of Real Madrid's notoriety for chaos, this season has been a particularly tumultuous one.

And so there is credence to the argument that the last thing Los Blancos needs right now is another change in the never-ending carousel of head coaches at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But since taking over from Lopetegui there has been a constant feeling that Madrid is taking one step forward and quickly taking two back.

Madrid has only lost three La Liga matches under Solari, yet the manner of those defeats is a worry – the 3-0 collapse at Eibar and a limp 2-1 home defeat to Girona, coming just a week after victory in El Derbi catapulted Los Blancos back into title contention – prime examples of the lack of fluency on display this season.

ALSO READ | Bale still 'important' for Real Madrid, says Solari

There was always a feeling, even when Madrid opted to name him as Lopetegui's full-time successor, that Solari was little more than a stop-gap. The Clasico Copa defeat to Barca will do little to assuage that and another loss against its great rival this weekend could be potentially fatal to his tenure.

Madrid does need a squad overhaul, but what it also needs is a man in charge who can coach the best out of a talented crop yet to hit full potential, someone to bring the best out of the likes of Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos and Federico Valverde. The successes of Reguilon and Llorente were almost borne out of necessity.

The sensible option to do that would undoubtedly be Mauricio Pochettino, who may fancy a crack if he continues to hit glass ceilings at Tottenham. 

Pochettino would also be a man to massage the bruised egos of Marcelo, Gareth Bale and Isco, who face futures quite as uncertain as Solari at Madrid.