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Five answers to Real Madrid's problems

After Real Madrid's disappointing defeat in Anoeta two weeks ago, Ancelotti said some things needed to change and, in fact, that they would. Watching last night's game against Atlético one should think he was not referring to the most immediate future.

Denis Doyle

  1. Seeing how they lost against Real Sociedad after their fantastic first half hour, with 2-0 at the scoreboard, and listening to their statements after every single game, it is an evidence that the team is having some problems regarding their morale and mentality. Every bad result is always blamed to a certain lack of intensity, and this is just unforgivable. If the players don't feel able to put all they have inside them on the pitch unless we're facing Bayern at a Champions League semifinal, those should go to the bench.
  2. Real Madrid's defense needs to improve, especially in everything regarding set pieces. Every ball that flies inside the box is a nightmare, as we experienced yesterday. Casillas, who is not the only one to punish for this, has received nine shots on goal in the last three games, and six of those went inside. Could Keylor have stopped some of them? My gut tells me that he probably would have done better, but as Ancelotti said yesterday, when you receive a goal from a corner kick at the near post, it's not the goalkeeper's fault.
  3. Ancelotti needs to exhibit the flexibility that characterized his booklet last season. He keeps saying Real Madrid will play 4-3-3 while attacking and 4-4-2 without the ball but the truth is that, after Alonso's departure, this system is not working at all. The entrance of Illarramendi seems the only alternative for this display to work and, if there's something wrong with him, as his countinuous absences might suggest, a different approach will be needed.
  4. The newbies should not be given so much responsibility. Toni Kroos and James Rodríguez have been in the starting lineup since their first day in Madrid and, although I would not say they have underperformed, the truth is that they still need to addapt to a new style and their new partners. A more gradual incorporation to the team could be more positive for them, for the team, and for the players who have been relegated to the bench, such as Isco or Illarramendi.
  5. Our strikers' aim is being disastrous lately, and we can't afford so many mistakes in front of the goal. Real Madrid has achieved five goals out of fifty-four shots in three league games, and this is more than poor. The Spanish press will keep bragging about Real Madrid's stunning punch but the truth is, as we have already mentioned, that it's our opponents who score against us quite easily.

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