Ancelotti must work fast to fix Real’s flaws

Defeat at San Mamés on Saturday saw Carlo Ancelotti’s team surrender their place at the top of La Liga, while Inside Spanish Football’s Real Madrid Correspondent Alex Kirkland has insisted the Italian must find the solution to their form, before it’s too late.

There’s no shortage of opinions on the malaise that has affected Real Madrid since the start of 2015. Pundits, fans and ex-players have all been quick to point the finger at those they believe are to blame for the slump. The targets are unsurprising, given the intensity of the scrutiny that surrounds los Blancos. Decima-winning coach Carlo Ancelotti is high on the list, as is record signing Gareth Bale.

Some of the criticism is unfair; some is unfounded. But some is justified. Saturday’s defeat at the new San Mamés was a low to file alongside the humiliation at the Calderón. Once again, Real Madrid were lifeless, sluggish, aimless. They were harried in midfield and squeezed for space upfront. Afterwards, Ancelotti admitted as much – their play had been too slow, on and off the ball. Emilio Butragueño described the team as lacking inspiration.

Not one player impressed. The BBC were anonymous, disconnected, with no room to manoeuvre. Cristiano Ronaldo continues his listless post-Balon d’Or form. He was unable to muster a single shot on target in Bilbao. Gareth Bale only hit the post from distance with what may have been an attempted cross. The Welshman has failed to score in his last 8 games. Karim Benzema, one sparkling first-half touch aside, was equally unable to make an impact.

Defeat at San Mames - and another poor showing from Ronaldo - meant Real relinquished first place in La Liga for the first time in 16 weeks.
Defeat at San Mames – and another poor showing from Ronaldo – meant Real relinquished first place in La Liga for the first time in 16 weeks.

In midfield, Toni Kroos has played too many minutes and now looks exhausted. His importance to this team has rendered him irreplaceable thus far, but Carlo Ancelotti may have no choice now. On four yellow cards, a fifth against Levante nextweekend would see Kroos miss the Clásico. At least Asier Illarramendi went on to give one of his better performances in a Madrid shirt, having started nervously against a side that tried to buy him in January.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well the absence of Luka Modric is felt more keenly with every game that goes by.

His replacements have, frankly, not been up to scratch. Illarramendi in general has not convinced, while Lucas Silva needs time to settle in. He was benched this weekend, having struggled against Villarreal.

Neither offers the fluidity or composure on the ball that Modric brings.

This content originally appeared here.

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Inside Spanish Football was established to bring the latest Spanish football news, features and opinions. They offer full coverage of all twenty La Liga teams, all the Spanish teams competing in the Champions League and the Europa League, plus all the latest news and information about the Copa del Rey, plus the Spanish national teams.