Carlo Ancelotti addressed the press today ahead of the Valencia game, where he fielded several questions about Vinícius’ reunion with the team after last season’s incident at Mestalla and the recent spate of contract renewals. However, he deftly and elegantly sidestepped most of these questions without saying anything particularly exciting. So instead, here are a few player-related points and one quite interesting tactical insight.
- Bellingham Fit for Fight
We start with Ancelotti’s comments about the Englishman. After shoulder problems against Rayo, he was absent against Braga, but it sounds like he’s ready to play again:
- We are focused on what happens tomorrow. The player is well, has trained normally, and is available. Unless something strange happens in these last hours, I believe he will play.
A brief and to-the-point message from Ancelotti, suggesting that Bellingham doesn’t have any major injury concerns. The team performed brilliantly without him midweek, but surely he is extra eager to get the team back on the winning track in LaLiga too.
- New Setback for Arda Güler
It was quite a blow when it became clear on Friday that young Arda Güler had been injured again. Ancelotti explains:
- Unfortunately, it happened before the Braga game. It didn’t seem serious, but it has bothered him in these days. It’s not serious. The player is a bit down because he is young, wants to play, and contribute to the team. It’s a small setback and a relapse from his previous injury. But we have the international break to get him back in shape.
So that’s why Güler didn’t debut against Braga. Ancelotti continued with some technical explanations about the injury before returning to Güler:
- He has a bright future ahead, and he is a hugely talented player. I understand he’s disappointed, but it’s a minor muscle problem. I understand it affects him. It happened to me at 21. I was out for two years and then came back, and my career continued. Therefore, Güler’s future is not in doubt. It’s a period, and I hope he recovers during the break.
There’s evidently strong support for Güler, who has been incredibly unlucky so far in Real Madrid. And let’s hope he doesn’t end up out for two years like Ancelotti… because it seems he has impressed the Italian in training with the nice words he receives.
- Carlos’s Tactical Corner
Let’s turn to the tactics. Early in the season, it looked worrying defensively, especially on the left side being torn apart with a sluggish Kroos on the left and Fran García constantly positioned too far forward. A problem that Real Madrid seems to have gotten under control lately, and Ancelotti explains it like this:
- We haven’t changed the system. We have changed some things defensively. We always defend with two lines of four. Compared to pre-season matches and the first matches of the season, it was a very clear diamond. Now Bellingham’s position is to the left. The defensive system has changed, and it has borne fruit. We’ve managed to keep a clean sheet in many games and be solid. The system with the ball depends on the players’ creativity. Choosing or defining a system with the ball is very complicated. Sometimes we play with two, three, or a line of four players behind the attacker. It also depends on where Rodrygo and Bellingham are. But without the ball, it’s quite clear, our system is a 4-4-2.
Early in the season, it looked problematic with the chances given away defensively, but Ancelotti deserves credit for seemingly solving the worst problems in this regard without compromising his own ideas with two attackers in front of a 10. Most recently in the Braga game, we also saw that Brahim Díaz positioned himself on the left when the opponent had the ball, just like Bellingham in the games before, while Valverde on the other side has plenty of experience not just taking care of the right flank but also running tirelessly and making it difficult for opponents. So, there is a system shift depending on whether Real Madrid has the ball or not. Whether what Ancelotti says above about the system WITH the ball makes sense is up to the individual to judge, but defensively there are clear improvements. Yes, Real Madrid always gives away chances, but they have only conceded eight goals in LaLiga, so as of now, despite injuries to Militão and Courtois, it’s offensively that the pieces need to fall better into place. And preferably tomorrow night to show that the Rayo game was just (another) one-day wonder.