The drop in tension in Madrid: from overwhelming Girona to dying against Leipzig | Soccer | Sports

When he was Chelsea coach, in 2010, Carlo Ancelotti was asked about the controversy of a possible penalty after a match against Inter in the Champions League and the Italian resorted to one of those simple but crushing phrases that Vujadin Boskov used to pronounce: “ Penalty is when the referee whistles.” Now, the coach has been appealing for weeks to the usefulness of draws and has only needed to use another sentence from the old Serbian fox: “Point is point.”

Since the resounding victory against Girona (4-0) a month ago, the white team has added more draws (1-1 against Rayo, 2-2 against Valencia and 1-1 in the return of Leipzig) than victories ( 0-1 in the first leg in Germany and 1-0 against Sevilla). Enough to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals and even extend the lead in the League in the face of the Girona’s weaker strength (seven points) and Barcelona’s weakness (eight). However, behind the unappealable mathematics a shrinking group has been hidden in recent weeks, whose cracks Ancelotti does not hide. “If they told us this at the beginning of the season, we would have signed it. Another thing is that we have to be critical,” he warned this Wednesday.

From the five low-danger shots (zero on goal) conceded to Míchel’s team, it has gone up to 34 (13 on target) in the entire European tie against an opponent who, in contrast to the general relief when the draw was held, He was already received into the coaching staff with great caution, fearful of the German transitions. So much so that, despite the 0-1, the harassment suffered in the first leg pushed the Italian coach to change the drawing in the return, which later turned out to be a fiasco. “We did not celebrate the pass because we did not perform adequately. There are things to talk about,” said Antonio Rüdiger.

The difficulties to reach the quarterfinals (minimum objective in Europe according to the club’s budget) confirmed, beyond the good German display, the drop in tension in Madrid’s game in recent weeks. Ancelotti’s analysis at midnight on Wednesday did not hide the problem. “We have lost a little freshness, we have less control, less verticality in the plays and too loose, slow possession. We must recover this soon. Now we have two games before the break (Celta at home and Osasuna away). I think the team is a little tired mentally. We will return better”, dissected the one from Reggiolo.

“We have less control, less verticality and too slow possession”

Carlo Ancelotti

The numbers point to a crack on both banks. In these five recent duels, they have scored on average one goal less than the average for the entire season (1.2 compared to 2.2 overall) as a consequence, above all, of having taken two fewer shots on goal per match (4 .2 compared to 6.3 for the year), according to Opta. And at his ranch, although the goals conceded per game have barely changed (0.9-0.8), he has felt more threatened by receiving one more shot between the three sticks than the average for the campaign (3.5- 4,4). Especially for a Leipzig that caused him panic.

In this grayer scenario, Madrid has only found the certainty of Lunin, the insistence of Brahim (anchor both in the first leg), and the permanent and bidirectional centrifuge of Vinicius, capable of bordering on self-expulsion and scoring against the Teutons in the first white occasion.

Waiting for Militão and Courtois

After surviving three cruciate injuries to their goalkeeper (Courtois) and two centre-backs (Militão and Alaba), quite a few minor physical mishaps, and the absence of reinforcements in key positions (no world-class summer relief for Benzema or replacement in winter for the fallen Alaba), the drop in performance has occurred at a time when it offered some objective advantages. The calendar gave him a respite as he enjoyed two weeks with only League commitments and the infirmary has been emptied as far as there was room (three crossed aside) after months of a lot of activity.

Madrid left some of its best performances without Vinicius, Tchouameni and Camavinga, tied Girona short without any healthy center back and has only given up one draw in the eight games without Bellingham (two games now suspended for the Mestalla red), but The screws have been loosened when circumstances seemed to most favor him.

Ancelotti appealed this Wednesday to a reset mental in the next national team break (then there is another break in the League on April 6-7 for the Cup final), and the returns of Courtois and Militão, whom he awaits for the quarterfinal match (9-10 and 16 -April 17th). Maybe more, for the return. To general surprise, the Belgian’s loss is the best covered now with Lunin, author of 12 stops in the tie compared to five for his colleague Gulacsi. In defense, the absence of the Brazilian and Alaba is taking a toll on a strangely less reliable Nacho.

Calmed by the pass, Carlo Ancelotti was asked on Wednesday if he was worried about the prosecutor’s request for four years and nine months in prison for defrauding the Treasury of a million and the Italian responded by looking at the grass. “The only problem I have is that the team has to play better,” he concluded.

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