Carlo Ancelotti better not snub Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard again

Real Madrid, Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

The recent game against Granada ended up with a victory for Real Madrid, even though it was with a minor difference of just 1 goal. It wasn’t the toughest of games for Los Blancos, but they did suffer a lot. The first leg of this fixture took place in November when Real Madrid emerged as a better team with a scoreline of 1-4. While many anticipated this game to end up in a similar way, Madridistas were unhappy, yet satisfied with the 1-0 result.

I, among many others, was pretty disappointed with the performances of some players, while some others showed some positive signs. A game with both the key attackers Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema missing out from the squad list saw the rest of the team pretty helpless.

While many predicted a front three of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Marco Asensio, Carlo Ancelotti took his experiments to a whole new level. We saw Rodrygo Goes starting at the left wing over Eden Hazard and Isco (in a false 9 role) starting over Luka Jovic.

The first half drew to a close with a 0-0 scoreline and with a disappointing display from some players, mostly from Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo Goes. Camavinga, who started the game in place of Casemiro (omitted from the squad in the last few hours) was replaced by Fede Valverde. Valverde had been pretty poor under the Italian which saw Carlo prefer Camavinga over the Uruguayan. But Valverde showed us all a small trailer of how good he can be which earned him a 7.5/10.

Around 65’, we saw Carlo Ancelotti make a double substitution with both Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard coming on for Isco and Rodrygo. Both the substitutes showed a lot of positive signs, making the most of the little time the two players got. Even though the game ended on a positive note for Real Madrid, this match, was a lesson for Carlo Ancelotti to trust the quality of players he has on the bench, rather than relying on only some players.

The game against Athletic Bilbao was a similar one and Real Madrid lost the game to be eliminated from the Copa Del Rey. Carlo’s line-up selection raised a lot of eyebrows and it is high time for Carlo Ancelotti to mend his ways and prevent a similar 2014/15 season.

Carlo Ancelotti of Real Madrid (L) gives the ball to Eden Hazard of Real Madrid (Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images)
Carlo Ancelotti of Real Madrid (L) gives the ball to Eden Hazard of Real Madrid (Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images) /

Carlo Ancelotti must give chances to Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard

This game had many flaws in the attack. Firstly, Real Madrid was playing without a proper striker. There was no one to force Granada’s backline to make mistakes and to push them behind. Isco played the role as a false 9 and had a decent game. He got along pretty well and often dropped to midfield to defend or to assist Toni Kroos. But he never dropped deeper in the opposition’s half to open up the defence.

Moreover, at times we noticed Rodrygo and Asensio crossing the ball into the box. Isco is not a player with such strength to compete with the defenders to win headers. It was even more surprising that Isco connected with the cross at times.

If this was Carlo’s plan in attack, any coach in the world would prefer to give Luka Jovic that role over Isco. Jovic is physically strong, aerially dominant, and can hold off defenders to guard the ball safely- something we saw against Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad. But Carlo Ancelotti said that Luka Jovic still hadn’t 100% recovered from COVID-19. Well, we don’t know the truth, but I will give the benefit of doubt to the Italian.

Another surprise in the line-up was the preferred start to Rodrygo over Hazard. Now, this preference in itself has two parts. One, not starting Eden Hazard when Vinicius Junior is absent. Second, starting Rodrygo, and that too, over Hazard.

With each passing season, the managers’ trust in Hazard has reduced, be it Zinedine Zidane or Carlo Ancelotti. It all started with Thomas Meunier’s tackle in 2019 and has continued thus far. It isn’t that Hazard played too average or poor. No. Each of the Belgian’s performances showed us his capabilities, but it was his injuries that contributed to managers’ reluctance to play him.

Well, Hazard has traveled a long way since and hasn’t looked back. The games against Elche showed some promising sparks and thus showed that Hazard deserves to start games. Eden didn’t start the last game, but his performance off the bench was enough to convince all the fans.

Now Rodrygo? I am one of those who believe that Rodrygo has the quality to succeed at Real Madrid. He is a wonder kid. But it was a wrong decision for Carlo to start him. Rodrygo is fast, more clinical in front of the goal, and drops back to help in defence. But the Brazilian has been very inconsistent this season. He has missed easy chances and is often bullied off the ball by the opposition. If I were in Ancelotti’s shoes, I would have started Eden Hazard and brought on Rodrygo as a substitute, because he could use his pace in a better way against tired defenders.

Next. Ranking Real Madrid’s best defenders in 2021. dark

Irrespective of the result of the game, it is time for Carlo Ancelotti to realise some of his mistakes and make amends for the future.

And most importantly, it is time for Ancelotti to trust his bench. This means that he must also think of starting Luka Jovic in the next game, for he is the best option to start as a striker in the absence of Karim Benzema.