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Real Deal Pods: Positionism vs Relationism: Carlo Ancelotti, Xabi Alonso & The Real Madrid Way

A special guest brings us a unique perspective on why Carlo Ancelotti is the perfect manager for Real Madrid

On this episode we bring on an extremely intelligent guest in Clarissa Barcala to discuss the managerial styles of positionism (attacking via position-driven movements that require rehearsal and coordinated positioning) and relationism (attacking more spontaneously by allowing individual players’ actions to dictate how the team attacks space).

Clarissa makes a compelling case for why Carlo Ancelotti is the ideal coach for Real Madrid.

Tune in to hear the crew explore a variety of topics: where do Xabi Alonso, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane fall on this spectrum? Does strict positional play get too predictable and fall apart in the Champions League? Where does pressing fit into relationism? Was Endrick held back by a positonist coach in Brazil? Where do coaches like Klopp, De Zerbi, Sir Alex, Wenger and Mourinho fall on this spectrum? Is Carlo one of the bravest coaches at the top? Is Carlo really outdated or is that a myth?


1:37 - Defining positionism and relationism

8:49 - Pep’s teams becoming more mechanized and positional over the years

13:23 - Does positional play get too predictable in the Champions League?

15:53 - The differences between Xabi Alonso and Carlo Ancelotti

21:58 - Where do pressing and other styles of defending fit in the positionist-relationist paradigm?

24:48 - Pushing back on the idea that Carlo Ancelotti is ‘outdated’

27:23 - Is Zidane more of a positionist or relationist?

30:09 - Do wingers struggle under positionist coaches?

35:33 - Clarissa’s favorite relationist teams of all time

39:40 - Categorizing Mourinho, Ferguson, Wenger and De Zerbi

49:46 - On Why Carlo Ancelotti is one of the boldest attacking coaches in football?

53:27 - Endrick at Palmeiras

57:30 - Closing thoughts on why Carlo is the right man for Real Madrid

Find us on X, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok at @realdealpods for more takes and banter between episodes on our Managing Madrid Spotify feed!

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Hosts this week:

Mehedi Hassan (@MHassanFootball)

Siddharth Ramsundar (@TacticalFouling)

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