Real Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti Returns To Napoli With Point To Prove

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is not a man to hold a grudge, as reflected by his return to the Spanish capital despite being harshly sacked by Los Blancos chief Florentino Perez in 2015. However the 64-year-old veteran would doubtless enjoy proving a point when his Madrid side visit Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. Ancelotti was axed by president Aurelio De Laurentiis in December 2019, less than an hour after helping Napoli reach the Champions League knock-out stages with a 4-0 thrashing of Genk.

The Italian side were struggling in seventh in Serie A at the time and won their first Scudetto for 33 years in 2023, so De Laurentiis will consider his decisions more than justified.

Ancelotti spent a year and a half in charge of Napoli, guiding them to a second place finish in the 2018-19 campaign, but his tenure was abruptly cut short in its sophomore year.

At the time it seemed Ancelotti had reached the game’s summit years earlier and was on the way down football’s food chain, with his next appointment at Everton appearing to confirm that.

Dressing room tensions and a dispute with De Laurentiis over a training camp led to his downfall in Campania. The president appeared to think Ancelotti did not have it in him to manage the squad.

However Ancelotti’s surprise return to the helm of Madrid in 2021 put him back among the elite, and in 2022 he won his fourth Champions League title as a coach, more than anyone else, as well as La Liga to complete a superb double.

Madrid’s 3-0 win at Girona on Sunday ensures they also arrive in Italy as leaders in La Liga, after a wobble in the derby against rivals Atletico Madrid.

– Recovery –
A painful 3-1 loss at the Metropolitano on September 24 saw Ancelotti come in for criticism for his tactics and diamond midfield system.

However the Italian made some minor changes and it proved sufficient to earn a comfortable victory over the high-flying Catalans, who had hoped to score a second consecutive home win over Madrid at Montilivi.

“Winning here means that we did well and I’d like to highlight our defensive work, which was very good,” Ancelotti told reporters.

The coach deployed Eduardo Camavinga at left-back instead of the more attacking Fran Garcia, and also asked Jude Bellingham to help with covering Girona to ease the burden on Vinicius Junior.

“We put Bellingham on the outside to avoid Vini having too many defensive duties, bearing in mind that (Aurelien) Tchouameni was in the centre to provide cover,” added Ancelotti.

Bellingham has seven goals and two assists this season across all competitions, largely playing in the number 10 role, despite his capacity to operate in deeper areas.

It was an “invention” by Ancelotti to help cover for the departed Karim Benzema and so far it has paid dividends for the England international, top scorer in Spain.

The coach’s tactical shift and subsequent tweaks dispel any doubts over his dedication at Madrid, showing he is not just on cruise control and heading towards the Brazil national team job he is set to take next summer.

Part of the reason behind the new set-up is to add muscle to the team and bolster the midfield, after Manchester City demolished the record 14-time European champions in last season’s semi-final.

The visit to Napoli will be another acid test for both Ancelotti’s plan and Madrid’s squad depth, with striker Victor Osimhen in excellent form, despite his recent anger over the club insulting him on social media network TikTok.

Los Blancos are without injured defender David Alaba, leaving only Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez available in central defence.

Napoli coach Rudi Garcia will also be looking forward to the game — he was due to face Madrid when at Roma in 2016, but was sacked ahead of the last 16 tie.

Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *