MADRID : Manager Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics were to blame for Real Madrid’s 4-0 humiliation at home by Barcelona in LaLiga on Sunday, Spanish media said on Monday.
“Ancelotti’s hari-kari,” read a headline in daily newspaper Diario AS about the coach’s decision to deploy 36-year-old midfielder Luka Modric as a false nine behind Vinicius and Rodrygo in place of LaLiga’s top goalscorer Karim Benzema, who missed the game with a calf injury.
“The day when perhaps the most reasonable thing was to cover injured Karim Benzema’s absence by changing as little as possible, Ancelotti did the opposite and his decisions cost Real a humiliation for the ages,” the Madrid-based paper said.
Ancelotti shouldered the blame immediately after the defeat, telling reporters: “My plan was to give my team more control and better pressure up front but it didn’t work. I told the players, it’s all my fault.”
After ending the first half two goals down, the Italian decided to make more changes and shifted to three central defenders, a costly decision that was supposed to provide more security but ended up being a still greater failure.
“Thibaut Courtois saved what could have been an even bigger humiliation,” Marca said on their front page, in reference to Real’s goalkeeper who made at least four crucial saves after Barca had gone 4-0 up.
“It is a slap in the face that hurts. Barcelona came to Madrid and ran all over the unrecognisable league leaders.”
The Barcelona media, however, were euphoric.
“Barca are back and it was a complete humiliation at Madrid, running over the leaders and ending their Clasico losing streak,” said Catalonia’s sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Barca had been without a victory against Real Madrid in three years, a devastating record that spoke volumes about the club’s struggles until manager Xavi Hernandez took charge in November.
“Xavi has changed history,” said Sport newspaper. “Xavi wanted to change this losing dynamic. His project for the future, with such good results since the beginning of the year, needed a boost. And nothing is better than winning a Clasico at Santiago Bernabeu to show that Barca is once again a great among the greats.”
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; editing by Clare Fallon)