A 4-0 loss to Atletico Madrid is probably the worst thing to hit the C.V. of a Real Madrid manager. Following a season where Carlo Ancelotti led Real Madrid to a historical La Decima, the Italian has come under severe criticism for managing a team that has quite evidently run out of steam. While Real Madrid went on to script a record-breaking 22 game winning streak in 2014, the team has limped in unimpressive fashion recently and endured a nightmarish defeat at the hands of Diego Simeone as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid close in the gap on the league leaders.
So where did things go so awfully wrong for Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid? The defence is not quite as strong as it used to be. The keeper situation is up for debate again following Iker Casillasa embarrassing mistake against Atletico Madrid while the renowned trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez failed to have the desired impact for the Los Blancos. Herea s a detailed analysis of why things are going wrong for Real Madrid and the key issues that Carlo Ancelotti needs to address if he is set the team on a correctional course.
A Leaky Cauldron
Real Madrida s impressive winning streak was built upon the foundation of a solid defence led by the likes of Sergio Ramos and Pepe. The Centre-Back duo has been phenomenal for Carlo Ancelotti this season and has rarely put a foot wrong. Not only have the cleaned up their act, their ability to read the game and nip any danger in the bud has been instrumental in Real Madrida s success. Carlo Ancelotti has tapped into Ramos and Pepea s ability to play higher up on the pitch and usually keeps a high defence line, pummelling all the teama s energy into attacking the opposition.
However the same defence has been punctured ever since Real Madrid returned from the winter break. Varane has replaced an injured Pepe while Sergio Ramos himself has struggled with an injury. Real Madrid have conceded 13 goals in just 9 goals indicating the need to repair the leaks in the defence. The fact that Iker Casillas made another mistake against Atletico Madrid does not make matters easy for Carlo Ancelotti who has used Keylor Navas sparingly this season. If the Italian is to fix Real Madrida s woes, he will have to organise his defence into a tight unit, capable to playing high up on the pitch, yet defensively decisive during the course of 90 minutes.
Where Is Cristiano Ronaldo? Suspended Or Just Out Of Form?
Where is Cristiano Ronaldo? The Portuguese superstar, who won his third Ballon Da Or this year, is curiously still struggling for match-fitness. It is no secret that Ronaldo was struggling with a knee injury last season and despite his obvious lack of match-fitness, subjected himself to Madrida s gruelling season-end schedule before flying to Brazil to lead his nation in the World Cup. A quick break followed and Ronaldo was back training for a new season under Carlo Ancelotti. Such is his determination but it seems that he is once again paying the price for straining himself too hard as the business end of the season gets underway. Ronaldoa s dip in form is one of the main reasons why Real Madrid is struggling this season. Coupled with the fact that Gareth Bale has a habit of going missing on certain occasions, Carlo Ancelotti has a big problem on his hands. If he is to fix the Real Madrid juggernaut, he will have to make sure that Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are properly rested and are back to being their devastating best. The two wingers are undoubtedly one of the most lethal pair in the world of football and have the ability to tear apart the best of teams across Europe. Just ask Pep Guardiola.
While Real Madrid has been lacking teeth up front and discipline at the back, its midfield has not really been the place where Carlo Ancelotti would often find solace at Santiago Bernabeu. The haunting absence of Luka Modric has severely affected the team and though Isco has revelled in Modrica s absence, Ancelotti would be keenly looking forward to the day when he can include his midfieldera s name in the team sheet.
Jame Rodriguez, Real Madrida s star signing of the summer, has also failed to really catch the fansa imagination. Brought on as a replacement for Angel Di Maria, the Colombian lacks the pace and the penetrating runs with which Di Maria would often pierce opposition defences. Though Rodriguez links up well with the likes of Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema, he is not doing enough in the vital role of a playmaker. The youngster lacks the ability to grab the game by its neck and change the course of it. He plays well when the team is playing well but rarely steps up his game in the absence of Ronaldo or Bale.
Also, neither Rodriguez nor Isco provide enough defensive cover for Real Madrid, leaving Toni Kroos with too many responsibilities in the midfield. While Real Madrid dona t need to be too strong defensively against most oppositions in Spain, the absence of a defensive minded midfielder against the likes of Atletico Madrid and Barcelona can be devastating for Carlo Ancelotti, as has been the case recently.
So where do Real Madrid go from here? While a 4-0 defeat is always difficult to digest, the European Champions are still top of the table and comfortably in control of their campaign. Carlo Ancelotti is a man who revels in challenging situations and he proved that he has the ability to spring out of a crisis last season when he led Real Madrid to a successful season despite its slow start. He will now hope that he doesn’t lead them to a disappointing end after an explosive start this season.