Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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When are you going to find out, Carletto?

Isco, against Athletic Bilbao. | EFE

On November 21, 2020, I wrote an article titled: “When are you going to find out, Zidane?” The coach, one of the best in the history of Real Madrid, also had his faults and/or hobbies. That article came up after the umpteenth opportunity he gave Isco. The footballer from Malaga, at that time, no longer had the level to play for Real Madrid and if you rush me, I think he didn’t have it for current football either, and that in LaLiga the pace is much lower than the Premier League, for example. We are in 2022, a year and a half has passed and Isco He is still a Real Madrid footballer because there is not a single offer for him even though he is free in five months. It doesn’t stop there, because Isco, in a one-game tie, is still the coach’s first choice to come off the bench. It must have been depressing for the Real Madrid fan to see Vinicius leave and Isco enter in his place. The player is the first culprit, but as I said about ZidaneSo is the coach who keeps insisting on an idea or someone that no longer works. Go ahead that Isco was not to blame for the tie, but it serves as the first example of the short circuit that Ancelotti suffered in Bilbao.

It was a horrible night for Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti had a lot of responsibility. For the first time this season, moreover, I was not convinced by his explanations at a press conference. He recognized that the idea was what we saw, to wait for a counterattack and for Athletic Bilbao to get tired after 70 minutes. That is the approach that an inferior team can do, but not Real Madrid and it is far from acceptable that this be the plan A, B and C. In reality, and this is the problem, there was only one plan, very poor being Real Madrid, it did not work and to top it off, it was not corrected throughout the game. How can you get eliminated making only two substitutions? The changes do not have to be made by doing, but if your team is being devastated physically, if in attack you have only generated one chance, I think it is more than justified that you look for solutions. Why didn’t you make more changes? Ancelotti explained it: “I had the changes planned for the extension”. I return to the whys. Why do we have to wait for the extension? Why didn’t you make any changes for the seven minutes remaining after Berenguer’s goal? You have to die trying, and on the bench there were players who, for me, don’t have the level for Real Madrid, but who are useful and more so for certain moments. Jovic and Bale are great headers. Much more than Rodrygo or Asensio. Put someone, try it. Not even that.

Ancelotti was blocked. It is not a matter of not trusting certain footballers, that too. Yesterday he was blocked, he had a bad night. Another example of this, also visible at a press conference, occurred when they asked him about Jovic, Bale and Hazard. Ancelotti, annoyed by the question, by the elimination, or perhaps by the problem that may arise after last night, compared these three players with Carvajal, Ceballos or Vallejo. Jovic, Bale and Hazard are attacking players and although they don’t have a goal (which is why I think they don’t have a level for Real Madrid) they could solve the problem that Real Madrid had, unable to create a chance almost until the end. Yesterday, the problem was not the defense. Rather the defense, with a huge Militao, held the tie longer than normal.

The elimination from the Copa del Rey was very fair and we will see what time tells us and if the game in Bilbao does not bring more negative consequences for Real Madrid because Ancelotti made, or rather failed to make, many decisions that could be dangerous for locker room health. Manuel Pellegriniin a similar situation, chose not to include Germán Pezzella and Guido Rodríguez in the call, his two Argentine internationals who had played last morning with his team, as they did Casemiro, Rodrygo, Vinicius and Valverde. Nor did they travel to San Sebastian. Successful or not, he gave priority to the footballers who had been training daily with him. Then Betis also won 0-4. Ancelotti chose to choose three players who arrived in Madrid almost 24 hours before the match. It is a dangerous message for the dressing room, for the motivation of many footballers who are going to be necessary to meet the objectives this season whether Carlo Ancelotti likes it or not. It is one thing to assimilate that you are a substitute and another to prefer a teammate who still has the Sau Paulo schedule in his body, who is tired and who plays absolutely everything.

And here comes Ancelotti’s most repeated mistake, and the one that should worry the Madridistas the most. Here is your big “When are you going to find out, Carletto?”. It will be very difficult for him to win LaLiga and the Champions League using only 15 players. It is not something exclusive to Real Madrid, it is like that in any team and even more so with the saturated calendar that exists. The footballers are going to end up melted down, some are their age and have to be pampered, some are going to get injured (as has happened now with Benzema) and for that, whether Ancelotti wants it or not, he is going to have to pull on other footballers and that these are in good competitive and mental shape, that they are plugged in. And maybe someone unplugged a little more last night. It has gone almost unnoticed but Ancelotti yesterday commented that “This defeat makes us stronger”. A phrase signed by Xavi Hernández or Joan Laporta three weeks ago to the laughter of many Madrid fans.

Ancelotti is doing a great job, but all the wires got crossed in one night. He is in time to realize certain aspects that are essential. And then, although I’ll save this for another day, he’s sports planning because there are a number of players who do not have a replacement. Benzema, Mendy, Casemiro and even Vinicius I would say. And luckily Vini has exploded this season. Who would have scored goals in this team? It’s not like Athletic Bilbao have many goals, but at least we can see that there is teamwork to solve these shortcomings. Chapo for Marcelino García Toral and his soccer players.


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