Real Madrid are looking to respond to two defeats in their last three matches, separated only by an unconvincing victory over Valencia on penalties. They face the first of those sides that beat them, Villarreal, in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night (21:00 CEST), seeking to arrest that run.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti spoke to their defensive errors in those three games, pointing out that 5 of the 6 goals were ‘major errors’ that could have been avoided. He is expected to bring in Nacho Fernandez for Antonio Rudiger in an effort to cut out the errors, with the German at fault last Sunday against Barcelona.
A significant portion of the media in Spain, including MD and Marca, have pointed to Carlo Ancelotti’s calls for an end to those errors. The Italian is clearly fed up of what he sees as a lack of focus rather than fitness or form – “the most simple thing in football is to defend well.”
The Madrid daily maintain that there is total confidence in Ancelotti from both above and from the squad, from who he has asked for more energy and more fight.
Should Los Blancos continue to make similar errors against Villarreal and Athletic Club at the weekend, it will mark a worrying trend though. Unless Real Madrid can arrest their run, it will not only leave them without two parts of the sextet that was being spoken about, but potentially give Barcelona a significant lead in La Liga.
This is not the first time that Ancelotti has criticised his defence though, with the Italian chastising his defence after each of the last three games, including the Valencia victory.
If Ancelotti cannot force a reaction, after what by his standards is a very strong statement of his frustration, then doubts will grow about his ability to wield the stick with a squad that worked so well with the carrot last season.