It’s been one hell of a week for Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid. Heading into October’s international break, the wise Italian was under scrutiny having led his men to consecutive disappointing defeats to Sheriff Tiraspol and then Espanyol. Now, Los Blancos are flying high following a 5-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk and a 2-1 victory away to Barcelona in El Clasico.
Real Madrid Have Bounced Back to Earn Two Wins in the Space of a Week, Including El Clasico
Worrying Signs Before the International Break
Having started the 2021/22 campaign so strongly upon Ancelotti’s return to the Real Madrid dugout, Los Blancos were surprisingly despondent ahead of breaking up for international duty. A truly shocking Champions League defeat to minnows Sheriff Tiraspol was the side’s first loss of the season, before suffering their second immediately after, away at Espanyol in La Liga.
A lack of overall intensity and cutting edge in crucial areas brought up questions asked of Zinedine Zidane throughout last term – Real Madrid’s first trophy-droughted season in 11 years. The same lessons had been taught time and time again, although all too familiar mistakes were beginning to emerge.
A huge reaction upon the squad regathering would be required to progress from those results and recapture the form they had previously showcased.
A Much-Needed Response
Ancelotti got just that as his side put in a thoroughly dominant and, truthfully, frighteningly ruthless performance in the Champions League. Los Blancos’ thunderous and untameable 5-0 win away at Shakhtar contained the style and substance that has made the club so feared and successful in the past. It also teed them up perfectly for an even bigger test just a few days later.
Admittedly, El Clasico is far from what it was before. However, it is still a gargantuan rivalry and blockbuster clash which requires perfect execution to come away happy from.
It was by no means the same trailblazing performance that Real Madrid had shown in Europe, but their eventual 2-1 victory showed intelligence, collective responsibility, resilience and clinical quality. A set of attributes that, along with their obvious free-flowing flair, makes them a top threat across various situations and against a variety of opponents.
Against Barca, Ancelotti set up cautiously, instructing his full-backs and wingers to sit deeper than usual. The trusted midfield trio of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were, therefore, able to remain compact, completely stifling the creative threats of Barcelona’s middle and forward lines while building play typically masterfully and neatly. So good were they at creating a block that Thibaut Courtois faced only two shots on target – the second being La Blaugrana’s 97th-minute consolation.
In the end, Los Blancos stole three points with two lightning counterattacks. The first headlined by a marauding David Alaba, who emphatically notched his first Real goal in the first half, and the second by Lucas Vazquez, whose presence of mind to burst forward in the 94th minute in order to ensure full effectiveness of the breakaway bore fruit.
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) October 25, 2021
A Significant Week for Real Madrid
Sergio Aguero’s first Barcelona goal in the 97th minute of El Clasico somewhat tarnished an otherwise perfect away showing but the three points were already sealed – as was a brilliant week for Ancelotti and his players.
What should be taken away from Sunday afternoon’s clash at Camp Nou – as well as their Champions League victory a few days earlier – is the fact that Real Madrid have made a declaration of intent.
Ancelotti has returned and has seemingly reinjected the unmistakable air of Real Madrid superiority after a dreary 18 months. Tuesday’s rout of Shakhtar demonstrated the ability to ruthlessly dispatch their opposition with an abundance of attacking and creative brilliance, while a steady and resolute performance in El Clasico reaffirmed their durability and qualities on the counter. A complete, well-oiled and diversely dexterous machine.
Real Madrid have earned two massively telling results this week while showcasing some merciless football in the process and, as a reaction to two sterile defeats prior, they certainly hold significance in the course of Los Blancos‘ campaign.