Rifts, cliques? Real Madrid players fire back at Mourinho

Real Madrid went into yesterday's win over Athletic Bilbao with reports of a massive blow-up between coach Jose Mourinho and the players.

Marca says Mourinho addressed his squad on Friday and accused some of "killing me in the mixed zone" after their Copa defeat to Barcelona.

The Spanish members of the squad took issue with the accusations, particularly when Mourinho threatened to ban them from speaking to the media before the Athletic match.

"Sure, mister, we won't talk to the press, you can do it," said one, tired of the demands from the coach.

But another piped up, saying: "You are angry with Iker (Casillas) for apologising to Xavi, yet what Pepe did in the video yesterday there is nothing, mister?"

Sergio Ramos is said to have lost his cool with Mourinho after discussions over Barca's goals last week. It took some teammates to calm the Spaniard down.

After yesterday's game, however, Casillas insisted: "We can't start losing our minds and pointing the finger at each other. Whistles are really aimed at all of us. We must all be united, team and fans alike. That's the way to earn good results. We must all row in the same direction if we want to celebrate winning the league title. I don't have a bad relationship with any of my teammates. You'll have to ask Marca about what they publish. I have nothing against it, but you'll have to ask them about today's article. We're not here to say if it is or isn't true. We shouldn't get dragged into this."

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