Eric Abidal thinks Zinedine Zidane stating La Liga was "finished" for Real Madrid following defeat to Atletico Madrid on Saturday was a way of easing the pressure on his team.
A 1-0 defeat at home to their city rivals followed a 1-1 draw with Malaga, leaving Real 12 points adrift of Barcelona at the summit.
However, Abidal - a four-time Liga winner during six years at Camp Nou - believes the comments were an attempt to take the spotlight off his players, some of whom were jeered during the weekend defeat.
"Zidane said the league is finished to remove the pressure on his players," the 36-year-old said on BeIn Sports. "His speech in the press room after the derby was good for the squad.
"The problem, more than the defeat, is the difference in points Real Madrid has with Barcelona.
"Zidane is a winner, he wants to win and it's something he wants to teach the players. Inside, it hurts him the players were not well in the derby. The attitude of the players on the pitch hurts him.
"If a victory comes quickly, everything is forgotten and life goes on."
Following the loss to Atletico, Cristiano Ronaldo garnered criticism for stating "if everyone was at my level, perhaps we would be first".
The Portuguese later insisted his comments were in regards to Real's injury concerns and were not performance-related, after Karim Benzema was withdrawn at half-time to join Gareth Bale, Pepe and Marcelo on the sidelines.
Abidal defended Ronaldo, but suggested the Madrid giants should still be able to secure results despite a number of absentees.
"Sometimes you say things you do not think to the press after a game," he added.
"Is it the first time that major players are injured? No. And other times they pulled out good results."