Real Madrid need to start performing at high level again to salvage sinking season
Not so long ago, the Los Merengues went on a 22 match win streak which culminated in them lifting the Club World Cup trophy. Since the turn of the year, they have lost to Atletico, Valencia, Bilbao and lately Schalke which has led to lots of questions being asked.
The biggest question right now is the form of Gareth Bale. The Welshman has been very poor since the European defending champions resumed hostilities for the new year and it is time to own up. Ancelotti has stuck to his guns that some players are untouchables in his team and that has angered a lot of Madridistas.
Carlo Ancelotti is undoubtedly one of the best coaches we have been fortunate to have in our sport, but his decision-making or lack of it has been evident over the years. He may have won 3 European Cups, but his record in domestic competitions leaves much to be desired.
Three league titles in 17 years is wretched and with Barcelona now calling the shots in Spain, if he doesn’t win La Liga this term and fails on the European front (defending the Champions League crown), his position will become untenable. Real and Florentino Perez have a history of sacking managers. Even the best are not safe. Something has to give.
The Italian tactician is a very lucky man, though. With Luka Modric back, the burden borne by Toni Kroos is now lighter as he has been a shadow of his dominant self for a few weeks now. Even without Itturraspe, Bilbao did well to stiffen the threat posed by the fantastic German maestro.
With the Barcelona game only 11 days away, changes have to made in order to salvage a season which promised so much but is tending to end with the team going empty handed if you take away the Super Cup and the Club World Cup from the equation.
Ronaldo continues to be the lone ranger
The Copa Del Rey was surrendered without a fight and the 4-0 demolition at the Vicente Calderon left much to be desired. The B-B-C trio (Bale, Benzema and Cristiano) was so efficient in the early part of the season, but Bale has become a lightweight of late and it has greatly affected the potency of the fearsome trio.
Cristiano Ronaldo continues to prove the doubters wrong, but he will be aware that Leo Messi has risen to the challenge. The Argentine has scored 18 goals already and we are only in March.
The Portuguese class act rose highest twice to become the highest goal scorer in European (UEFA) club competitions on Tuesday night but his brace (record equaling 20 of such with Messi in the Champions League) wasn’t enough to prevent Schalke and Leroy Sane from inflicting a first home defeat since September 2014.
It was also only the second time that the Whites had conceded four goals at home in the Champions League (the first being against Bayern in 2000). something that hadn’t taken place in 15 years. No one predicted such an outcome but in football, impossible is nothing and it showed yet again to the astonishment of the majority at the Bernabeu.
Crisis talks may be too extreme but if the ship is to be steadied, drastic decisions must be taken and keeping Bale on the bench is one of them but then again, the man can just turn up on Sunday and bang a hat-trick vs Levante. Then, all will be forgiven and perhaps, forgotten.
Iker Casillas has done so well to win back the critics and doubters from the last two seasons or thereabout until Schalke exposed his weaknesses again and tongues started wagging.
The longtime Spanish number one responded like all greats do to prevent the likes of Sane and Howedes from scoring goals that would have certainly eliminated Real. What is glaring is that the capital club need a new and better shot stopper. I am one of San Iker’s biggest fans, but the truth has to be told without fear, sentiments or favour.
Ancelotti has faced some harsh criticisms over the last couple of weeks. The Schalke game must never happen again from now till the end of the season or else, a new sheriff will be introduced at the Bernabeu in no distant time. It is now or never Don Carlo. Set the ball rolling from Sunday. An immediate response is required and very vital.