Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has revealed that he caught a group of his players watching Real Madrid's victory over Barcelona on Saturday evening in the team hotel.
Madrid romped to a 3-1 win at the Bernabeu the day before the Red Devils battled to a draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford. The Blues had taken the lead through Didier Drogba in the second half before Manchester United struck back late on when Robin van Persie pounced.
Now Van Gaal has revealed just what his players got up to the evening beforehand, confirming that the large majority of his squad were gathered around a TV at their team hotel in order to watch El Clasico, something which left him "stunned".
"We went to the Lowry, we had a screen so I could watch the second half and 17 players of 18 were there," said the Manchester United boss. "I have never experienced that before. We have a lot of Spaniards!
"I won't tell you which one wasn't there. It was the quality of the game - Real Madrid v Barcelona."
Van Gaal guided Barcelona to two league titles in 1998 and 1999, so was well placed to offer his assessment on the game which moved Madrid to within one point of the Catalan giants at the top of the table.
"I told the players, 'you have seen what they have done because for example, Barcelona under Gerard Martino pressed from the front, but under Luis Enrique it is from behind'. "Real Madrid pressed from behind, they drop in and they were very compact. After Real scored the second, the match was over because Barcelona don't keep compact. That was deadly."
Van Gaal and his Manchester United players now have the time to recover from their exertions at Old Trafford yesterday and focus on their next testing encounter against Manchester City next weekend.
Their elimination from the Captial One Cup at the hands of MK Dons earlier on in the season means they have no distractions leading up to the derby at the Etihad Stadium, while Manuel Pellegrini's men must take on Newcastle on Wednesday beforehand.