Real Madrid: Three biggest mistakes made by Carlo Ancelotti against PSG

Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images) /

2. Exposing Carvajal to the danger from two players, and inability to change things mid-way

Anyone who watched the match yesterday knows that Dani Carvajal struggled in the game from the word go. The Spaniard is a beast on his day, but yesterday he was unable to handle both Kylian Mbappe and Nuno Mendes, with the Frenchman, in particular, giving Carvajal a very tough time on the right.

Carvajal can be criticised for getting the basics wrong and even gifting a penalty to PSG, as he did against Manchester City in 2020, by fouling Raheem Sterling late in the second half. But questions must be asked about Carlo Ancelotti’s inability to respond to Carvajal’s struggles and his decision to start Marco Asensio, a player who doesn’t really help his winger down the right.

I feel that an attacker must be selected on the basis of his attacking abilities and I believe that defensive contribution must always be secondary. That is the reason why I wanted Gareth Bale to start as the right-winger in this game, despite his below-average defensive work rate. But at the same time, Asensio had done nothing in attack and was one of the worst players on the pitch. Maybe he couldn’t do what Ancelotti expected from him, but this raises questions regarding Ancelotti’s reluctance to change things at half-time or even earlier in the second half when he knew that the team and Carvajal are struggling.

The solution was simple. He could’ve replaced Asensio with Fede Valverde, as the Uruguayan can act as a wide midfielder and support Carvajal in defence, while also helping out Real’s midfield to break through PSG’s press by acting as the extra midfielder. But Ancelotti didn’t do this.

Instead, he preferred to stick to his 4-3-3 formation, and subbed on Lucas Vazquez, a worse defender than Carvajal, for Real’s No.2. In hindsight, we can say that it was a suicidal decision because Vazquez could’ve prevented Mbappe’s 94th-minute winner with better defensive awareness.

Yes, Real Madrid’s right-back position has been an area of concern, and there’s a need to work on that issue in the summer. But the manager needs to realise that there are ways in which they can mask the issue, at least until summer. In simple words, there must be a plan B and it must be used when plan-A won’t isn’t working.