Under Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid have tasted great success this season. They finally won La Decima, as well as the Copa del Rey, a stark contrast from last year’s barren, trophy-less season. Their success has been the result of some key decisions made by the Italian during his first year in charge.
We have decided to analyse Ancelotti's first year in charge of the La Liga giants.
Changing to 4-3-3
Real Madrid adopted the 4-2-3-1 formation much like many top teams in the 21st century, and it seemed to suit their players well. Ancelotti was bold to change it, but after falling behind Barcelona, it was a necessity.
So what do you do if you can’t beat them, join them – or at least steal their formation. Madrid adopted the 4-3-3 formation, whilst retaining their traditional style of free-flowing, counter-attacking football; and it worked wonders.
The change gives Real’s front three players the freedom to attack without limit. The midfield trio handle the creative and defensive responsibilities, meaning all Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo need to worry about is putting the ball in the back of the net.
Moving Di Maria into midfield
Following the £85 million arrival of a certain Welsh winger, it was presumed that Di Maria would be the one to surrender his starting berth. Instead it was Mesut Ozil who left for Arsenal in a £42.5 million deal.
This still left Ancelotti with a dilemma. He could ill afford to leave a player as talented and creative as Di Maria rotting on the bench week after week. So he put his talents to good use, reinventing the Argentinean winger as a central midfielder. And it worked; to devastating effect.
He used his lightning speed and agility to outpace and outmanoeuvre sluggish defensive midfielders and became a catalyst for his sides attack. When sides battened down the hatches and Madrid found it difficult to break them down, one incisive, darting run at the heart of the defence would be to enough to stretch the back line.
Di Maria has always been a creative player, and his qualities as a playmaker are accentuated in the central midfield position, leading La Liga’s assist table with 17 decisive passes. Few would have thought to make such a move.
Keeping the squad content
In a squad as star-studded as Real Madrid’s, keeping the ego in check can be tough. Jose Mourinho quite famously burnt many bridges during his time at Madrid, falling out with most of the dressing room after a high-profile spat with captain Iker Casillas.
But under Ancelotti, there is an element of calm and togetherness about them. With two quality players for every position, the Italian has rotated his squad well, keeping the majority of his squad happy and giving them enough playing time.
He also found an intelligent solution to the Casillas – Lopez conundrum, allowing the latter to play in League games whilst Casillas featured in the Copa del Rey and Champions League.
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