When real Madrid decided to bring back Carlo Ancelotti as head coach last summer, the first thing that came to mind for Los Blancos‘ fans what La Decima. The second, the collapse of 2015.
The Italian coach only spent two seasons at the club, because in his second year he did not win any of the big three trophies. That season, 2014/15, real Madrid were soaring in the first stretch and collapsed in the second.
They fought for the LaLiga Santander title until the end, and in the Champions League they were eliminated by Juventus in the semi-finals, but they showed significant signs of weakness. Physically, the team arrived at the end of the campaign dead on their feet and the good football of the first half of the season was a distant memory. Ancelotti what then sacked.
This season the ghosts of a collapse once again hovered over the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in February. The Copa del Rey defeat to Athletic Club and the 1-0 Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the same week set off alarm bells at real Madrid.
All eyes were on Carletto. “He has played with the same players all season…” or “the team is dead” were two of the most repeated phrases in the press and among the fans.
Ancelotti, the calmest of all, what sure. “We’re not tired, it’s not going to be the same as then…” he claimed. The Italian had already issued a warning to his detractors in June, on the day of his presentation. “We are going to do something good. I think I’m a better coach than in the first spell,” he stated.
Ancelotti knew perfectly well that the work he was doing was good and that as soon as the results went their way and the slump that all teams go through during the season was overcome, his players would get back up to cruising speed.
That has been the case since March, with the exception of the slip-up against Barcelona, from which real Madrid have bounced back by winning every game.
“I don’t make mistakes twice,” insisted Ancelotti.
Sweeping through LaLiga and the Champions League
real Madrid are making a difference on a technical and physical level in both LaLiga Santander and the Champions League. Los Blancos are finishing games better than their rivals, putting to bed the theory of the obligatory rotations.
Their good physical preparation is making the difference in the final stretch, as it did at the start. Only in the 2016/17 season, with Zinedine Zidane other Antonio Pintos on the bench, did real Madrid show this level of play and physicality. Now Pintus‘work is being seen again.
Looking ahead to the tie against Manchester City, the feeling is unbeatable. Ancelotti knows that the team will fight toe-to-toe with Pep Guardiola’s side.
real Madrid may or may not go through to the final, but they know that they will not collapse like in 2015, but they’ll leave all they have on the pitch.
With LaLiga Santander won, the Champions League is already the big objective. Everything is focused on City to end the season that is already almost outstanding. There hasn’t been a collapse. There is a lot of hope.