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Analysis: Three things Carlo Ancelotti did wrong against Barcelona in 3-0 loss

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Photo by ARIC BECKER/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid fell to a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Barcelona at the AT&T Stadium on Saturday night in their third preseason game of the season.

The scoreboard, however, is kind on the Blaugranas, for the game was equally balanced for large parts.

There are several positives for Carlo Ancelotti to take away from the display including the chances created and the midfield dominance.

His side hit the woodwork five times and would have won the game on any other day.

Yet, every defeat demands a deep retrospection. Here are three things the manager got wrong in the Clasico that ultimately led to the unexpected defeat.

1. Vinicius Jr and his niche

Vinicius Jr is one of Real Madrid’s biggest success stories in recent years.

The Brazilian protege has established himself as one of the world’s best wingers, but talent does not translate to versatility.

The youngster has shone in Los Blancos’ 4-3-3 setup in recent times.

However, Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to shift to a 4-4-2 setup demands changes in the forward line that may not suit Vinicius’ style. Saturday’s game was the best example.

The Selecao star looked relatively lost playing in a forward two alongside Rodrygo.

Photo by ARIC BECKER/AFP via Getty Images

While he was far from poor in the position, he was not remotely close to his best.

Everything changed when the manager called on Joselu to change the formation.

With Bellingham taken off and a central striker to supply, Vinicius opened his wings in the final 15 minutes.

Back on the flank, he confidently completed take-ons and generated regular threats.

If Ancelotti is to take away one point from the defeat to Barcelona, it should thus be the need to play the Brazilian in his niche.

2. Underestimating the value of a striker

Carlo Ancelotti’s setup against Barcelona featured Jude Bellingham in the role of a false-nine behind the duo of Vini Jr and Rodrygo Goes.

Playing Bellingham in the tricky role came with sufficient upside, and the youngster regularly connected with the forwards to generate threat.

However, there was nobody in the box to effectively put the chances away.

Ancelotti revealed after the win over AC Milan that he saw Rodrygo as a central striker for the upcoming campaign given the lack of resources.

However, that plan will likely not come to fruition considering the Brazilian’s profile.

The void left by Karim Benzema’s departure is real, and the club cannot hope to fill it by simply altering the system.

It will thus be critical for Ancelotti to find ways to incorporate Joselu into his starting lineup.

3. A defensive lapse

The Merengues did not do much wrong on the night, and in fact, dominated the chances against Barcelona.

However, it was clear from the get-go that Eder Militao was having one of his more shaky performances.

Photo by ARIC BECKER/AFP via Getty Images

The youngster ran into unnecessary and poorly timed challenges early in the game. David Alaba’s rusty positioning did not help the team’s cause either.

It would thus have been wise for the manager to turn to one of Antonio Rudiger or Nacho Fernandez in the second period to seal the gaps in the defence.

After all, Real Madrid were going all out in attack, and it was crucial to not concede a second goal.

Ancelotti’s decision to persist with the same centre-backs for the entire game played into Barcelona’s hands.

Two quick goals late in the game killed any hopes of a comeback for the Galacticos and gifted the Blaugranas the win.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Musa Hussain

    July 30, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    When the Barcelona defeat real Madrid on Saturday night pre-season tour merengues doesn’t need to change their formation which is 4 3 3 carlo ancelotti he is one of the cause Barcelona defeat real Madrid to change his formation game

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Features

Five players who will be fixed starters for Real Madrid next season

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Following a successful campaign, Real Madrid are poised for significant changes in their roster due to a combination of player arrivals and departures.

The responsibility of blending new faces with established stars will fall to coach Carlo Ancelotti and his staff as they aim to maintain the club’s competitive edge domestically and in Europe.

And to predict the team’s probable strategy and performance amidst these changes, it is imperative to identify the key players who will be constant starters.

Kylian Mbappe

The new talisman. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

With Real Madrid no longer viewing Mbappe through rose-tinted lenses and finally being able to dress him in the royal white jersey, the Frenchman is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Owing to his instinctive nature to find the back of the net, he is poised to be paired alongside Vinicius Jr. in attack.

Last season, the 2018 World Cup winner scored a whopping 44 goals in all competitions. Thus Real Madrid will be banking heavily on Mbappe’s ability to ask questions of opposition defenders in the final third.

It is being said that Mbappe is all set to wear the iconic number 9 jersey at Real Madrid, which is indicative of the role he will play, as a focal striker.

Vinicius Jr.

The main man at Real Madrid. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Brazilian is in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or this year, and looking back on his season with Real Madrid, it is easy to see why.

Despite losing Karim Benzema, his usual partner in crime over the past few years, Vinicius performed remarkably well in Ancelotti’s new system.

Relentlessly taking on defenders, arriving into space, scoring goals, and stepping up in the biggest of moments, he was one of Real Madrid’s major lynchpins throughout the season as they lifted a historic double.

Vinicius impressively racked up 24 goals last season, and given his importance to the team, the likelihood of him not maintaining a starting role next season is nearly nonexistent.

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid Fans’ Player of the Season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Defying all expectations in his debut season, Jude Bellingham established himself as a key player for Real Madrid, demonstrating exceptional versatility, and maturity far beyond his years.

Although the Englishman’s performances wavered in the final stretch of the season, Bellingham’s contributions ensured Los Blancos were able to compete in the Champions League and especially La Liga.

In addition to scoring 23 goals in all competitions, he has constantly been a beacon of reliability in midfield and has proven to be the voice of reason on the pitch.

There have been murmurs about Bellingham potentially being berthed deeper next season as Real Madrid intends to use him as Kroos’ replacement. However, given his versatility, he is expected to be a crucial player wherever he plays.

Antonio Rudiger

A mainstay at the back. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Rudiger is one of the major reasons Real Madrid managed to successfully disguise their injury crisis. Despite players falling like dominos in the back-line, the German stood resolutely as a dependable figure for most of the campaign, arguably enjoying one of his best seasons.

Expertly anticipating opposition strikers’ movements, he leaps forward to thwart attacks before they begin. Moreover, thanks to his large stature and incredible recovery pace, he is able to cover distances behind.

Reports have mentioned that Carlo Ancelotti views him as a crucial component of the squad and potential arrivals, such as those of Leny Yoro and Rafa Marin, in the back-line are unlikely to devalue his presence.

Thibaut Courtois

Back like he was never gone. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In spite of spending more than half of the campaign on the sidelines recovering from an ACL and MCL injury, Courtois is worth his weight in gold for Real Madrid.

He performed admirably in the final few games of the season and did no wrong against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final.

While Andriy Lunin made up for his absence with flying colours, he is placed below Courtois in the pecking order for now, which also has made the Ukrainian lean towards an exit.

The fact that Lunin, after his sublime season, stands no chance of dethroning Courtois between the sticks is a testament to how much the club appreciates the Belgian. Even at the age of 32, the Belgian keeper is anticipated to retain an important role in the team.

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