• La Liga

Real Madrid 'crisis' after derby setback

ESPN staff
September 30, 2013
Bad day at the Bernabeu

Atletico Madrid's 1-0 win at the Bernabeu on Saturday has plunged Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid into crisis - at least, according to the Spanish media.

Both Madrid-leaning sports papers featured a puzzled-looking Ancelotti on their covers on Monday. AS headlined: 'Ancelotti's made a mess', while Marca asked: "Where do we start, Carlo?" and listed what it said were the Italian's recent mistakes.

Problems identified by both papers, just 100 days into Ancelotti's reign at the Bernabeu, include not starting Luka Modric against Atletico, leaving out Dani Carvajal and playing Fabio Coentrao, some "baffling" substitutions, an over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale's stuttering start, the surprise sale of Mesut Ozil, and the embarrassment of losing a second consecutive Madrid derbi to their poorer rivals.

Much discontent has focused on Ancelotti's persistence with the out-of-form Karim Benzema up front. AS ran an online poll that found 86% of Madrid fans wanted the France international dropped and youngster Alvaro Morata given a start at home to Copenhagen in Wednesday's Champions League group game.

Ancelotti's decision to leave Benzema on the pitch and send on Morata for Isco against Atletico brought whistles from the fans inside the ground - the first sent directly at Ancelotti.

In a column headlined 'Signings in search of a team', Diego Torres, of El Pais, focused on that substitution and wrote that Ancelotti was struggling to provide the stylish football demanded by president Florentino Perez with the more individualistic galactico attackers brought to the club by him.

Torres pointed to Ancelotti's admission after Saturday's game that he felt Madrid could only score from a cross, writing: "The response was a confession. Despite counting on the most expensive forward line on the planet, worth some €300 million, Madrid's play was so rudimentary that the coach assumed a goal could only come from crosses.

"The statistics back him up - in the last three games, the team has only scored either through free kicks, crosses from the wing or penalties. Against Atletico they lost 0-1 and the biggest danger came from crosses from the left met by Benzema and Morata."

On a similar line, Alvaro de la Rosa, writing in AS, wrote that Ancelotti talked about "putting on a footballing show" when he arrived in July, and they had impressed with their style in pre-season. But then "the team still had Ozil. And Bale had not arrived".

De la Rosa said Ancelotti had changed his tune and was now talking about the need to get the ball forward quickly and be more "vertical" - the way in which Madrid played under Jose Mourinho in recent seasons.

Looking for positives, Marca said Xabi Alonso could help knit together Madrid's currently disparate elements when he returns to the midfield. Alonso has not played this season after undergoing a metatarsal operation in August, but has reportedly targeted the home game against Malaga, on October 19, for his return.

Potentially, he could prove his fitness ahead of the first clasico meeting with Barcelona at the Camp Nou a week later - a game that could add significantly to the pressures beginning to surround Ancelotti.

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