With Real Madrid already out of the Copa Del Rey this season, Carlo Ancelotti´s chances of a trophy to give the Madrid fans something to celebrate and a real chance of keeping his job as manager. But the two pieces of silverware still available to the Italian coach are looking increasingly at risk as an injury crisis threatens to derail our hopes in the Champions League and La Liga, despite Real being favourites in most bookmakers rankings.
Ever since Karim Benzema moved to Real Madrid from Lyon in the summer of 2009, he has had to share the central striking duties with Gonzalo Higuain. Until this season, that is, when Carlo Ancelotti decided it had to be one or the other to get the best from them.
For a while in the early stages of the season, the manager seemed to have made a big mistake, as the French striker struggled for goals, form and confidence, but all three are flowing now. Maybe the court case was preying on his mind or he just needed to get used to being the main man, but he is certainly producing the goods now.
The game this weekend was causing a certain amount of concern for Real Madrid and their fans. Despite it being a home game, the visit of an in-form Villareal and the absence of star man Cristiano Ronaldo made it look like it was going to be a tough one, but Garteh Bale was back from injury and the Welshman inspired his team mates to a vital victory which moves Real Madrid to the top of La Liga.
We already knew that Real Madrid was blessed with some serious attacking talent, but there was a real danger that hardly any of those players would be at the World Cup in Brazil next summer. Angel Di Maria’s Argentina had already qualified and Gareth Bale’s Wales had fallen way short.
But the fact that Portugal and France had to qualify via the play-offs was surprising and both teams were on the brink after the first legs. France, especially, were on their way out after losing 2-0 in Ukraine. No European team had ever turned around that deficit, but France did it last night with a 3-0 win in Paris.
Carlo Ancelotti takes his Real Madrid squad back to the country of his birth tonight to face the Italian champions Juventus in the Champions League. The Madrid boss experienced one of the worst spells of his football career with Juventus; his two tears in charge ending ignominiously when he was sacked at halftime of the final game of the season. So the manager will have an extra incentive to beat Juventus tonight, thereby ensuring top spot in the group for Madrid and probably condemning the Italians to the Europa League.
Carlo Ancelotti may have a few things to say to his Real Madrid defenders this morning, but that could be a bit churlish and he will probably be in too good a move to bother. Apart from letting in three goals against Sevilla at the Bernabeu last night, everything went well for the Madrid boss.
Fair play to the visitors, they gave it a good go and played well, showing great resilience to come back from being three down after half an hour with two goals in as many minutes. But Madrid were on fire, inspired by Gareth Bale, who completed the whole 90 minutes on his full home debut. Playing on the right, which Ancelotti has declared will be his position, the Welshman tormented Sevilla with power, pace and trickery.
Real Madrid fans have been getting very frustrated with Karim Benzema recently, but his substitute appearance in El Clasico was a good one and a sign that the France international is finding his way back to form. His turn and shot was like the Benzema of old and he was desperately unlucky to see it smash back down off the bar.
Hopefully, that will be the start of a resurgence in the 25-year old and he continues to find his way back into form. But it may already be too late to save his career at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. According to the Daily Star, the top brass at the club have already decided to go for the Liverpool and Uruguay international star Luis Suarez when the transfer window opens in January.
There is a lot of disappointment and anger among Real Madrid fans, and I am sure that Carlo Ancelotti and his players took the defeat hard, but there is no reason to dwell on it or keep going on about the refereeing decisions. To be honest, there are plenty of reasons to be positive and look forward, while thinking about the Clasico game could be an unwelcome distraction.
Carlo Ancelotti has got a few of his Real Madrid stars missing for today’s La Liga visit of Malaga to the Bernabeu, most notably Rafael Varane, the young French international defender, who picked up a knock to his knee whil with the France team. It’s not serious, but it means that Pepe and Sergio Ramos will start today.
Another player who is a doubt, after sitting out yesterday’s training session with a bruised calf. The French striker may still be okay, and will surely be keen to continue his international form, where he scored in both games. Benzema has been working hard and has began to look like his old self, so he will not want to have to sit this one out.
When Real Madrid agreed to sell Gonzalo Higuain to Napoli in the summer transfer window, and also not replace him with another striker, the idea was to show Karim Benzema that Carlo Ancelotti and the Club had faith in his abilities. Also, by playing regularly, his form would improve while his confidence would grow at the same time.