Pitchside

Could Carlo Ancelotti’s failed gamble cost him his job?

Pitchside

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Before Real Madrid’s match at struggling Valladolid last Wednesday, Carlo Ancelotti said his team’s Liga title hopes would be over if they failed to win that match:

"We have to win our three remaining games in La Liga. The Valladolid game is like a final for us because not winning it would mean losing the league."

That match ended in a surprising 1-1 draw, but it did not completely rule Real out of the race.

Indeed, if coupled with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona failing to win their matches, victory against Celta Vigo on Sunday would have put Real in a situation whereby beating Espanyol in their last match of the season would give them a big chance of winning the title: all it would require was for Barca to beat Atletico at the Camp Nou.

Ancelotti appeared to write off the possibility of Atletico and Barca floundering against Malaga and Elche. However, he does not appear to have been watching the same Liga as everyone else, where the top three have been doing everything they can do lose the title.

The last few weeks have seen Atletico lose to Levante and Barca draw at home to relegation-battling Getafe; clearly Carlo could not count on them doing the business against superior respective opponents in Malaga and Elche.

But count on the top two he did, leaving out Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Angel Di Maria and Pepe. Ronaldo, according to Ancelotti, was “not 100%”, while he also claimed Pepe and Di Maria were injured.

By starting the likes of Casemiro, Nacho, Alvaro Morata and a Sami Khedira who has just returned from six months injured, Carlo was clearly taking his eyes off La Liga and fixing them firmly on ‘La Decima’, the prospect of a 10th European Cup for Los Merengues.

It was a dreadful decision.

Real were appalling, playing as badly as they have all season. The likes of Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos started – and both gifted Celta striker Charles goals with horrendous errors.

Luka Modric, arguably Real’s second-best player of the season behind Ronaldo, had a stinker, as the rest of the team looked half-interested for most of the match.

[AWFUL REAL LOSE AT CELTA]

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Even worse, at a point when Real were chasing the game and neither Atletico nor Barca were winning, Ancelotti brought youngster Willian Jose on the pitch - even though he had a fit Bale on the bench. That was inexcusable.

Of course, both Atletico and Barca were held, meaning that – had Real bothered with this match – they would be ahead of Barca and just behind Atletico for the last game of the season. Wins for Real and Barca would have seen Carlo crowned a champion; even an Atletico win would have been better than loathed rivals Barca winning the title.

[MALAGA HOLD ATLETICO]

[BARCA HELD BY ELCHE]

As it stands Real have not just blown their own shot at domestic glory, but may well have gifted Barcelona – who have been mediocre this season – a chance at the title they would not otherwise have had.

Carlo had better win that Decima…

By Reda Maher - on Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

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