Real Madrid’s board is right about one of the biggest culprits for performance vs. PSG

Real Madrid, Florentino Perez (Photo credit should read BENJAMIN CREMEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Florentino Perez (Photo credit should read BENJAMIN CREMEL/AFP/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid are certainly not out of the Champions League Round of 16 yet, though they can thank the continued excellence of center backs Eder Militao and David Alaba and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for the fact that they only lost 1-0 to PSG at the Parc des Princes.

The overall performance from Los Blancos was disheartening, to say the least. It is a damnation of the approach Carlo Ancelotti took that Real had just 0.13 xG. Yes, I know that xG is a flawed statistic in some ways, but to post a number that low is a clear sign that a team lacked any sort of threat. At no point did PSG fear Real would score, as Real’s midfield had zero control of the match and the attackers were listless with Karim Benzema clearly not healthy enough to play.

There are a number of people who have to shoulder some of the blame for such a lifeless display, but the man in charge has to bear the largest burden of criticism. Ancelotti sets the tone as the manager, and his cowardly approach to this tie was a huge problem.

It seems that Real’s leadership in the front office feels the same way. ESPN’s Rodrigo Faez and Alex Kirkland report that the club is very upset with the performance and has pinpointed Carlo Ancelotti and Dani Carvajal as the main issues.

But the reality is that they are more right about Ancelotti being the main issue than Carvajal. Although Carvajal played poorly, the reality is that he stood no chance. And he stood no chance because he went up against the best player in the world, Kylian Mbappe, one-on-one. How could he possibly succeed? He had no assistance from Marco Asensio, as Ancelotti’s decision not to play Fede Valverde – against the wisdom of virtually every Madridista – backfired badly.

Carlo Ancelotti seemed unprepared against PSG

Ancelotti had no plan defensively or offensively. He wanted to keep the game low-scoring at the Parc des Princes with two of his key starters playing through pain, and that is understandable. But it is the way he did so that is the issue. Ancelotti had no plan to transition, put his midfielders in positions to fail, got his lineup selection wrong on the right side of the formation, made his substitutions way too late, and left his best player, Vinicius Jr., isolated.

Real Madrid fans have been frustrated with Ancelotti in 2022 after woeful performances against Getafe and Villarreal in LaLiga, as well as a quarterfinal exit in the Copa del Rey against Athletic Bilbao.

In all of these matches, Real never scored. And Ancelotti is said to be the man who has unlocked the attack. The defense never allowed more than a goal in these matches, either via an uncharacteristic error (Getafe) or a last-gasp wondergoal (Bilbao, Paris), but can Ancelotti really get credit for the heroics of Alaba, Militao, and Courtois in the face of a team lacking control and structural solidity?

The board is right to ask serious questions of Ancelotti, as the fans have been doing so. And the magnitude and sheer number of these questions only continues to rise with each passing performance, seemingly worse than the last.

On the bright side, Real Madrid can rebound in the Champions League. They just cannot be complacent. If Ancelotti does not learn from his mistakes in the second leg, Florentino Perez could very well decide to create an early list of new managers for 2022-23 and beyond.

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As for the other man highlighted by the club’s leadership, Carvajal, his future is secure in contract after a recent extension that takes him through 2024-25. But beyond 2021-22, his starting job is not secure if he continues to struggle. Real, in all likelihood, will look for another right back to compete with him in 2022-23, which they truly should have done this past summer.