Ancelotti’s balancing act with Bellingham: Real Madrid under control

Ancelotti's balancing act with Bellingham: Real Madrid under control

The situation in La Liga certainly frustrated Real Madrid fans last season. Los Blancos ended up ten points behind arch-rivals Barcelona, ​​24 wins versus six draws and eight defeats. In part, it seemed as if coach Carlo Ancelotti’s team were giving away league games just like that. Real lost three of the five Clasicos in the 2022/23 season – too much for the self-image of the madridistas, to whom triple winner ManCity also mercilessly showed the limits in the semi-final second leg of the Champions League (0: 4).

How did the transfer window go?

However, Real Madrid only invested a lot of money this summer for one potential new key player: the transfer of Jude Bellingham (20/midfield) brought more than 100 million euros into Borussia Dortmund’s coffers. The 20 million euros for Arda Güler (18/midfield) were an investment in the future. The deal with Fran Garcia (23/Rayo Vallecano) should mean that David Alaba, Antonio Rüdiger or high-flyer Eduardo Camavinga will rarely be “misused” as a left-back – in preparation Ancelotti tested the Spaniard alternating with Ferland Mendy.

Brahim Diaz (23), who has returned from Milan, closes the gap left by Marco Asensio’s (27/to PSG) free transfer. With world footballer Karim Benzema (35/to Al-Ittihad) and Mariano Diaz (29), two center forwards left the club, so that there is currently only one real attacker in the squad with Joselu (33/came from Espanyol), who was loaned out in the summer.

What is hope and what is worry?

It is precisely in that storm center that the Spanish media see the targeted transfer of Kylian Mbappé as “necessity and not a whim”, as “Marca” clearly put it after the 1: 3 against Juventus Turin. Real scored five more goals in the first two pre-season tests against Milan (3-2) and ManUnited (2-0) before suffering sobering defeats in the “Texas Clasico” against Barcelona (0-3) and Juve.

However, Ancelotti saw the defensive after the Juve bankruptcy far more critically than the offensive, which had also hit aluminum five times against Barça, for example. The Royals’ counterattack protection didn’t fit at all, which displeased the Italian head coach. The Spanish press described the fact that Bellingham had seemed downright “desperate” in his new role as ten as worrying.

The ball distributor and driver, who was always wanted in Dortmund, craved contact with the ball, which is why he often dropped and thus disregarded his intended role. It could be a balancing act for Ancelotti not to lose the England international on the top ten.

The line that Bellingham walked in part in Dortmund was sometimes a narrow one. His strength of opinion was not always well received by his fellow players. In Glasgow, for example, he complained in rough words to the much older Nico Schulz, shortly afterwards top talent Youssoufa Moukoko felt Bellingham’s displeasure in Augsburg. In Madrid, names and selfishness are far greater.

But hope is definitely given by the extremely broad squad of the capital club behind the center of attack, with which the competition – including from Barcelona – cannot keep up. The midfield alone with Bellingham, Brahim Diaz, Güler, Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni (23) and Fede Valverde (25) reads extremely well. And this list even lacks Toni Kroos (33) and Luka Modric (37), who may be entering the last year of their careers.


Playing the role of the hungry hunter, Real will again push Barcelona to the limit this season. If the royals get through the first phase with three away games in a row (Bilbao, Almeria, Vigo), they can quickly become the hunted. In the premier class, Real is feared anyway. If Blancos transfer their Champions League mentality to the situation even more often, Barcelona will have to stretch badly to defend their title. For the first time since 2015, Real will start the Copa del Rey as defending champions.


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