On Saturday, Real Madrid made history by going 26 matches in a row unbeaten. Their second ever best run after the amazing 34 run under Leo Beenhakker. Losing only twice since the start of the season with an ascending performance making them closer than ever to their beloved Champions League trophy.
Thanks to Carlo Ancelotti the team is more balanced. It shows great Italian strength in defence with lethal attacking abilities and a lot of options on the bench. It’s no secret that the Los Blancos are obsessed with La Decima and with the help of Carlo Ancelotti this is about to come true on May.
No more one on one with Iker/Diego Lopez:
I’m not talking about the goalkeeper situation although I will come to that later in this article. It’s obvious how Real Madrid conceded a lot less than ever this season, and that’s due to a lot of reasons.
One of them being that the back four are not playing on a highline most of the times, this sounds wonderful so why not play like this more often in Spain and make it harder to score for the oppositions?
The answer is in the high pressure players apply on the ball in Spain which would create catastrophic spaces between the defence and midfield if you play with highline. Great example of that is Barcelona vs. Valencia game where things went horribly wrong for the Catalans.
Now, how does that actually work in Real Madrid? It’s the three defensive midfielders and the Christmas tree
Ancelotti adores that he wrote a book about it. Ancelotti changed his formation throughout the season to get the most of the ridiculously talented Isco. He came to the conclusion that the old 4-2-3-1 in
Madrid will no longer be the shape of Real Madrid because of the goals conceded playing with two defensive midfielders and other reasons which will be mentioned later. That led to a staggering clean sheet Copa Del Rey journey without taking anything away from the mighty Iker Casillas.
You can’t fly with one wing:
The biggest problem with Real Madrid under Mourinho in my opinion was that the team wasn’t balanced. It’s true that it had two wings, but an entirely different type with completely different tasks. It’s true that you could have that in your team but it leaves you somehow wobbly and dependant so much on the form of your wingers or you might end up with big troubles.
The big problem Mourinho’s team had is he used Ronaldo as left wing with more freedom to shift inside and become a second striker with no defensive tasks what so ever.
While Di Maria was more of a midfielder going back in defence and shifting inside the midfield to create with his favourite left foot with short amount of crosses. The problem with this approach is that it leaves the left back in so much trouble. Not to mention that if Ronaldo wasn’t in a good form, which is very rare, the team becomes a mess and a huge part of the team will be missing.
It puts a lot of pressure on the left back which will usually get help from Xabi Alonso creating so much space in front of the centre backs making it really easy to score from the edge of the penalty area.
A lot of matches were lost due to that reason last season; Isco and Benat goals are examples of that. Some matches where Modric took the job of Alonso he wasn’t able to neither cover for the left back nor make the needed tackles, interceptions and runs to prevent the opposition from attacking.
The famous night in Dortmund saw the Germans capitalised on those errors. However, this year saw Gareth Bale comes to Real Madrid to create this balance up front leaving them with limited defensive tasks. Although Gareth Bale hadn’t justify his price tag yet, but the team is playing perfectly balanced thanks to the place he takes on the field.
Happiness is in every corner in the Santiago Bernabeu:
With problems storming the whites of Madrid by the end of last year, came a manger known for his good relations with his players. Carlo Ancelotti is famous in creating a good atmosphere in the changing rooms which Real Madrid lost at the end of last season causing havoc and loss in concentration needed to win the Champions league or the Copa Del Rey final.
The rotation policy see all of the players getting some time on the pitch and even giving time for Iker Casillas which proved to be a good decision after he made his choice of making Diego Lopez the first choice at the club.
World Cup around the corner:
This maybe a motivation for every club around Europe so you might argue that it’s not a real reason in favour of Los Merengues. However, with about 15 international players and more players like Jese for example eager to debut with their national teams in Brazil create more competitive atmosphere in the club.
With every single player trying to shine and attract attention to get his spot and play in the dream competition. International players such as Marcelo and Isco will try to use their time on the pitch to perform at the highest level to grant a starting position with their respective teams.
Options Options Options:
There’s no team in Europe with more options on the bench than Real Madrid at the moment, every position has at least two excellent players fighting for it.
As injuries and suspensions had proved to be vital in deciding a team journey in Europe, it might not be the case with Real Madrid this year.
The problem that appeared in some matches this season is the team failing to score. It was somehow fixed recently but there are still some doubts about the team ability to score and creating chances with the trio upfront being isolated.
One solution would be in giving the full backs more freedom to go forward and help by stretching the opposition and delivering crosses inside the box.
However, Ancelotti doesn’t like that approach because it leaves a lot of spaces behind and instead wants the full back to be more cautious. A lot of the other solutions could come from long balls from Xabi and Ramos or Luca Modric freedom to go forward and become more of a number 10 type of player in attacking.
The goal might come as well from a free kick as height proved to be an advantage for Real Madrid not to mention the golden right and left foot of Ronaldo and Bale. Moreover, throughout the history of the Champions League, it’s always more important to know how defend and keep clean sheets.