Real Madrid look to bounce back after Spanish Super Cup loss to Barcelona
The post-World Cup season has not been kind to Real Madrid. The Spanish giants have struggled and suffered humiliation in the Spanish Super Cup final against Barcelona.
Carlo Ancelotti is looking for answers to try to turn things around. However, the fixture schedule has not done them any favors as they turn their attention to the Copa del Rey where they travel to take on Villarreal. A Villarreal side who beat them less than two weeks ago in LaLiga.
To make the situation even more difficult, Real Madrid — already without David Alaba, Lucas Vazquez and Aurélien Tchouaméni — are not going to be able to count on Dani Carvajal who has been carrying a hip injury for some time and needs some time off. He’s played through it but it’s obvious it’s limiting him and it was apparent when he was left in the dust by Alejandro Balde.
Despite the number of absences, Ancelotti is not using at an excuse.
“We have had injuries that have affected us a little more and it was not foreseeable,” Ancelotti said. “Not being at full strength is quite normal. We have to endure this month.
We think that tomorrow is important, even though everyone thinks Madrid are dead. We have to be calm and confident, it’s a complicated period against rivals who are in good form.”
One of the problems for Real Madrid is the players who are available, their form has been left wanting. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have had their moments but, in the latter’s case, it seems like the World Cup has left him exhausted. Karim Benzema hasn’t been the same this season and has been in and out of the side with injuries.
The Copa del Rey might not be a priority for Real Madrid but given their recent run of form, it was made into one. They are currently three points behind Real Madrid but given their next two league fixtures are against Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad, the gap between them and Barcelona could significantly widen.
In other words, the match against Villarreal is as much a must-win match as one could have with plenty of season left to go. Getting booted from the Copa del Rey would be a significant blemish on a season that is already proving difficult. While a loss may not mean the end of Ancelotti, it could raise questions about his future during the summer as well as those on a number of players.
Real Madrid’s style, or lack thereof, has also been a point of contention for supporters. That particular aspect is going to take longer to sort out. Against Villarreal, getting the win is going to be the most important thing. If they don’t and the alarm bells weren’t already ringing, they certainly will be by then.