Pellegrini struggling to make Madrid click

MADRID - Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has criticised the team's attacking play, increasing the pressure on coach Manuel Pellegrini who is struggling to make his expensive squad click.

The French forward was speaking after Real let slip a 1-0 lead at the Bernabeu to lose 3-2 to AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"Our problem is that we don't do what we practise in training," Benzema was quoted as saying in Spanish media on Thursday.

"In training we look to open up the wings, to get behind the defence.

"But in games we don't manage to spread the game to the flanks. We all get in each other's way as we try to play through the middle."

Spanish newspapers agreed with Benzema's analysis as they bemoaned the continuing lack of fluency in Real Madrid's play and their failure to press home the advantage having taken an early lead against Milan.

Despite spending around 250 million euros on the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is out injured, Kaka, Benzema and Xabi Alonso, Real are struggling to open up defences in the big games as happened last season under Bernd Schuster and Juande Ramos.

"October is advancing and Pellegrini is exactly where he was (when he started). At kilometre zero," sports daily AS wrote.

Marca said: "Real continued in their uncomfortable search for a plan. The team had its moments, but later lapsed into imprecision and melancholy."

Real coach Pellegrini was on the back foot in the post-match news conference and again called for patience.

"I'm not particularly concerned to have lost to Sevilla and Milan, the most important teams we have played so far, because they are developed sides that have been playing together for some time," he said.

"This season we have had a few poor minutes but too much is being made of these. For the most part we have played well. The results have been good and we are improving.

"We have a lot of work still to do to improve on an individual and collective level."

Real's next match is away to Sporting Gijon in La Liga on Saturday.