Chelsea may have just been crowned European Champions, but football’s heavyweights are already looking for ways to dethrone the blues. The Los Blancos wasted no time following Zinadine Zidane’s abrupt departure to replace him with Carlo Ancelotti making a sensational return to Madrid after six years. The mission ahead, however, is very different from his first tenure.
Long gone are the days of Real Madrid’s famed front three BBC. Only Benzema and Bale remains, with Bale’s performance being just a shadow of his previous ones. Ancelotti will now be tasked with leading the Spanish giants back to the pinnacle of European Football with a project that is still in its early days. Real Madrid has invested heavily in youth talents in recent seasons, securing the likes of Eder Militao, Vinicius and Rodrygo. The side’s young stars have all demonstrated flashes of their skill but will now need to take the next step into their careers.
In modern football, successful managers are not just those who have a football philosophy, or those who are capable of attracting stars. Apart from all these basic qualities of a successful manager, there is something which is seldom found in managers today; adaptability.
The Los Blancos went trophyless last season, which is something the club isn’t used to. Despite injuries all over the season, Madrid finished second in the league and lost to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Madrid did have problems upfront, with Benzema being the sole leader in the scoresheet. The transfer window has been perfect with Alaba and Camavinga, and Mbappe is likely to come as a free agent in the next window.
Ancelotti has a fluid approach to the game, making him a tactical chameleon. His sides routinely adjust their approach to the specific demands of each matchup. Upon returning to Real Madrid, there will be an exception of attacking dominance. The Los Blancos have already scored 21 goals in their opening 6 fixtures, and their attacking football has been scary.
Ancelotti has gone with the ideal 4-3-3 formation with Vinicius on the left, Rodrygo and Hazard being the preferred choices on the right flank and Benzema up front. Modric is still the pivot in his midfield, with Valverde, Casemiro, Isco and Camavinga alongside him. He has also given Asensio the free role in the midfield. The challenge for Carlo is to manage the defensive side of Madrid. Despite the addition of Alaba, Nacho and Militao will need to step up and deliver for the Los Blancos. Among all the top 10 teams of La-Liga, Madrid have conceded the most number of goals (8). Courtois has been rock solid under the post, and with Kroos and Bale coming back into the side, he’ll have a variety of options to try out.
The first principle will be intelligently seeking opportunities for the high press. Real Madrid often defended in a high press under Zidane’s charge, so there’s very little difference here. One thing that we’ll witness is a well-drilled side that looks for pressing triggers, such as negative passes, poor body orientation of the first attacker or a deep opponent facing a goal with only risky options at his disposal.
One of the benefits of coaching Real Madrid is that there’s no lack of superstars. Even in a tumultuous season like 2020/21, there were stars all over the pitch, though each with his own distinct skill set. There will always be mixing and matching.
Nevertheless, Ancelotti is loved by Madridistas for delivering La Dècima. The club and fans will give him every opportunity to succeed and the players will fight for a manager who handles the squad so well.
At some point or another, there will be a mass exodus among the veteran players. However, with the Ancelotti signing, there’s an indication that the club wants to get one or two more years out of their veterans. In any situation, Ancelotti was a better option than any of the coaches linked with Real Madrid. With his experience and tactics from his entire career, the club will expect a domestic crown this season, plus he’ll help them transition to the next generation of Galacticos, with some huge transfers next season. With a perfect start to the season, Ancelotti looks like a perfect choice that Madrid has made.