There have been stories circulating in the Spanish press that all is not exactly rosy in the Real Madrid dressing room. The trouble apparently flared after the disappointing and damaging derby defeat by Barcelona on Sunday and if it does not get sorted out soon then it could affect the team’s focus for the crucial final nine games of this La Liga season.
Carlo Ancelotti must have been dismayed to see that two of his most important Real Madrid players, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo, had gone into meltdown after Sunday’s El Clasic defeat to Barcelona. The Italian manager is probably expecting both players to receive some sort of reprimand for accusing the referee of cheating and with every La Liga game now crucial, Ancelotti must be dreading that they will be punished with a ban.
As if Real Madrid losing El Clasico to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu was not bad enough, Carlo Ancelotti and his team could be set for even further punishment. The refereeing technical committee, called the RFEF in Spain, is looking in to statements made by Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, as an AS report explains, in the wake of the disappointing defeat and I cannot see any outcome other than both players being given bans.
Real Madrid will host lowly Elche at the Santiago Bernabeu, but the result is not as straighforward as you would think. For one thing, Carlo Ancelotti has had his preparations for today’s game disrupted by a baffling decision by the panel set up to make rulings on all sorts of disciplinary cases.
The Italian manager had expected them to decide this morning that the three match ban given to Ronaldo for the slightest of touches on the captain of Bilbao a couple of weeks ago was too harsh. So Ancelotti had prepared for the game with Ronaldo in the team, but the three game ban was upheld.
Real Madrid are in a great position in the Copa Del Rey. They are 3-0 up from the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu and that would usually be enough to think that a place in the final was just a formality, but that is not the case tonight.
Because the opponents are Atletico Madrid and Ancelotti and his players are expecting a tough night. Not only are Atletico fierce city rivals, but there home crown always makes a trip to the Vicente Calderon a difficult one and they will be especially fired up tonight, as will Diego Simeone and his players.
There may have been some concern among Real Madrid fans yesterday, with Cristiano Ronaldo ruled out of the Champions League game through injury. The opponents, Turkish champions Galatasaray, had improved a lot since Madrid beat then heavily in Istanbul, with Roberto Mancini working his magic, so people expected a tough test.
Those fears were much worse when Sergio Ramos was sent off for denying what the referee deemed to be a scoring opportunity. Although it was a bit soft, Ramos does it too often and must control himself, especially in Europe.
With Real Madrid already lying six points behind fierce La Liga rivals Barcelona and five behind city rivals Atletico, it goes without saying that Carlo Ancelotti and his players are walking a fine line. Another early slip up would give the club a huge task to catch up and would put a negative spin on things heading in to the two week international break.
So the news that three key defenders are unavailable this weekend is about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. At least tomorrow’s La Liga clash against 7th placed Real Sociedad is at home and the Santiago Bernabeu has been a fortress for a long time, with the only points dropped there this season being the narrow loss to Atletico.
Despite a wealth of rumours doing the rounds this week, Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez has announced he has ruled out selling Sergio Ramos in January and it is entirely understandable why the club’s president is so keen to keep the defender firmly where he belongs at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The 27-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League, with big spenders Manchester City keen on signing the Spain international. Although City are 11/5 with Paddy Power to win the league, their boss Manuel Pellegrini has been struggling with injuries in defence and bringing in a utility player like Ramos would significantly boost their options at the back.
Carlo Ancelotti will be glad to return to the Champions League tomorrow, where he has enjoyed his best result of the season by far, the 6-1 away demolition of the Turkish champions Galatasaray. Madrid have been winning in La Liga, but often not very convincingly, and the derby defeat to Atletico at the weekend was the catalyst fir the players to call a crisis meeting with their boss.
Apparently, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo were the main speakers, being the club captains and best player. It is reported that Ramos insisted that the coach needs to trust his players more, while the general consensus was that all of them need to work harder individually and collectively.
While arguments rage across the Spanish football world, Carlo Ancelotti and his Real Madrid players are just relieved that they came away from this tough night in Alicante with all three points. To be honest, they didn’t really deserve it, and Elche will quite rightly feel aggrieved that they did not record a famous result against the giants of La Liga.
Diego Lopez was once again much busier than he would have liked in the Madrid goal, but it was the away side who took the lead, with a Cristiano Ronaldo free kick at the start of the second half. But Madrid did not make the most of their advantage and press on, and they were punished.