Carlo Ancelotti Takes Blame for Real Madrid Collapse in El Clasico

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By Martin Graham | 22nd Mar 2022

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has declared himself to blame after his side capitulated against Barcelona in Sunday’s El Clasico.

Real Madrid came into the game with a 15-point league lead over their rivals, having beaten them 2-1 at Camp Nou in the first leg of the tie in October 2021.

They had secured a 3-0 win the week before over RCD Mallorca, a 3-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League and a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad the weekend before that.

It is safe to say that Los Blancos were flying before El Clasico, and the manner of the loss has left fans perplexed.

Manager Ancelotti, who had to reshape his squad for the rivalry fixture with captain and key man Karim Benzema out of action, took the blame for the manner in which his team lost in his post-match comments.

“It is tough because it is a Clasico, for the fans when we play against Barca… it is a blow, we have lost a battle, we still have an advantage and we have to stay calm and get back our injured players,” Ancelotti said during his post-match interview.

“We were not recognisable, everything went wrong. I told the players that [the defeat] was my fault.

Barcelona were the better side on the night but had a decision go in their favour, making the game a little controversial. Brace-scoring striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in the 11th minute, jumped into a challenge studs up against Toni Kroos, and not even a yellow card was shown to the Gabonese forward.

Ancelotti chose not to dwell on that incident, instead focusing on how badly his side played and what next they need to do to regain their momentum.

“I don’t understand it, but I’m not going into it because I don’t want to make excuses. We played very badly and we approached the game very badly,” the Italian manager commented.

“We have time to gather our energy and prepare for the last two months of the season to win trophies. We would have done what we needed to do so far: nine points ahead of [Sevilla in] second and into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

“I’m very sad about the defeat, I’m sorry for the fans, but I have to be calm.”

Courtois slams Ancelotti tactics; Nacho rallies teammates to pick themselves back up

Madrid players were left frustrated after the match and the interviews of two of the side’s players after the game showed the two different feelings in the club’s dressing room.

Nacho Fernandez, captain of the night in place of the injured Karim Benzema, cut a sombre figure during his post-match interview, but reminded the world that they are still on top of the league while calling on his teammates to pick themselves back up.

“It was a very bad performance from us and a good one from Barcelona,” Nacho began. “The result speaks for itself, maybe we were too laid back because of our advantage at the top of the table.

“We’re disappointed because losing the Clásico is always painful, but we’ve had a great season up until now and that advantage means that we’ll keep our lead in the league.

“We didn’t perform in any aspect of the game. It was one of our poorest performances of the season. Everything went wrong right from the start, they got early goals and we weren’t comfortable in the game.

“It’s tough on a mental level to lose, given what the game means, but we now have to hold on to the advantage we’ve given ourselves. We’re Madrid and we have to pick ourselves up. We have to congratulate them, there’s a long way to go and it’s in our hands.”

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Courtois was not as kind as Nacho in his appraisal of his teammates, also taking a dig at Ancelotti’s tactics for the game.

“Today we gave an unacceptable image for this club,” Courtois said. “There are players missing, but you didn’t notice that it was them [Barcelona] that played Thursday (in Istanbul).

“We will have to talk about the tactics internally. They haven’t worked at the start of the game or the second half, we have to discuss it internally, not here.

“We played with a false nine in the Copa and hardly had any shots and it was the same here. We started okay, we had a chance with Fede Valverde which Marc ter Stegen saved well, but from there we dropped off.

“We didn’t find the free man playing out and that makes it hard. Then in the second half, we cannot start like that.

“This badge demands that you fight and in the second half we did not. We could have lost by even more.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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