BARCELONA - Spanish media resonated with dismay and disbelief on Wednesday after Real Madrid's thrashing by Liverpool in the Champions League first knockout round.
"Madrid humiliated in Europe", "Liverpool, white cemetery" and "Madrid crash to earth" were among the headlines after a 4-0 defeat saw the nine times European champions eclipsed.
Real failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for a fifth straight year having been undone by superb performances from Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, formerly of Real's arch city rivals Atletico, and captain Steven Gerrard.
The 5-0 aggregate scoreline would have been far wider were it not for a string of fine saves by Spain keeper Iker Casillas, and the limitations of Real's squad were made glaringly clear.
"Liverpool gave a provincial-looking Madrid a lesson in what Europe is," wrote the daily ABC. "Their devastating play made Madrid look like they weren't at the game: no possession, no ideas, no energy and lacking control or width.
"A stellar Torres knocked Madrid to the ground and Gerrard buried them."
Real's recent 10-match winning streak in the Primera Liga, which ended with Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to city rivals Atletico, was all but forgotten.
El Pais blamed the Spanish champions' poor showing on Tuesday night partly on the club's recent institutional problems which it said urgently needed to be resolved.
Real have an interim president following the resignation of Ramon Calderon in a vote-rigging scandal and El Pais said elections must be held sooner rather than later so a new president can breathe life into the club.
"Madrid have hit rock bottom," wrote the newspaper. "They have been there for a while on the institutional side and now they have fallen off a cliff in the sporting arena."