Real shock labelled galactic failure
Real president Florentino Perez returned to the world's richest club by revenue for a second term last summer and brought in top players including Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in a bid to end five years of failure in Europe's elite competition.
However, Thursday's Spanish newspapers suggested the construction magnate's investment had been a waste and the nine-times European champions had focused too much on glamour and spectacle at the expense of sporting success.
"You don't buy titles, you win them," columnist Jose Samano wrote in daily El Pais following the last 16 exit.
"When the ball is in play it's the business of the players and Hollywood-style theatre is irrelevant," he added. "Everything is possible in sport except for those who consider the pitch a stock market."
Real's elimination by Lyon, 2-1 on aggregate following Wednesday's 1-1 home draw, ended Perez's dream of winning a 10th European title at the club's Bernabeu stadium, where May's final is to be held.
Real were also humiliated by third-tier Alcorcon in the King's Cup in November and the domestic league is their only remaining chance of silverware this season.
"The catastrophe suffered by this pharaonic Madrid team is as if an earthquake had destroyed the Valley of the Kings," Orfeo Suarez wrote in El Mundo.
"Watching the competition to which they owe their legend from the sidelines will be their penitence and torment."
"Sixth galactic failure" and "More than 250 million euros down the drain" were the headlines in conservative daily ABC, and columnist Julian Avila said Real were left looking for answers despite their "stratospheric spending".
"The jewel in the crown, Cristiano Ronaldo, Champions League finalist in the past two seasons, is out of the tournament at his first attempt in a white shirt," Avila noted.
Carlos Marcote, writing in daily El Periodico, said Perez had failed in his attempt "to bulldoze Madrid back to the summit of world soccer."
"Not even winning the league ... will remove such a scandalous stain, the worst in the recent history of Madrid given the such lofty heights they were obliged to reach."