Even the usually cool, calm and collected Real Madrid boss, Carlo Ancelotti feels a lot of pressure as a byproduct of Clasico contest. He has more weighing on his shoulders than he would like ahead of his team’s crucial league trip to Barcelona on Sunday (21/3) night.
Just three weeks ago, everyone agreed that Madrid looked like they could afford to lose this match, their toughest game between now and the end of the season, and they still positioned themselves at La Liga’s summit. Following a shocking 1-0 home defeat of Barcelona against Malaga, Ancelotti’s men enjoyed a 2-0 victory at Elche; and the result gave them four points clear.
Since then, the Catalans have won every match, while Madrid have taken just four points from a possible nine. Another bad news is that they just came closer to crashing out of the Champions League to Schalke. A five-point turnaround will be enough to see Luis Enrique’s side go into Sunday’s game a point above Madrid.
While Florentino Perez, president of Madrid, has publically backed his man, but he piled more pressure on at the worst possible moment. The questions over Ancelotti’s future continued at the news conference ahead of the weekend win over Levante. They brushed the questions off with a smile and some light-hearted humor, but everybody knows that they were questions that the Italian did not want to be facing.
During the news conference, Perez failed to give clear comment on his coach’s future beyond the end of this season. He redeemed the question by saying that the club only discuss new contracts when the season is over, and with just one year left on his current deal, Ancelotti’s future will be up for discussion preceding the summer.
Madrid fans at least can be alarmed by the former Paris, Chelsea and Milan manager’s record against the Catalans, with a 3-1 victory in the league this year following the Copa del Rey final success last April. In total, the Italian has won two from four matches against Barcelona, and both of those defeats happened in last season.
The Barca coach was under scrutiny on the results front, but there were also rumors that he was at odds with Messi, behind the scenes. Barcelona’s attacking trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are vastly outshining Madrid’s costly attack and ensuring their side triumphs in most matches.
However, the match is not without ramifications for the Barcelona coach. His side may be the form team which are ready going into the match, but therein comes a problem. Madrid’s slump in performance levels will leave the Catalans on Sunday match and if Madrid giving their quality on the pitch, the strain will edge back to the Camp Nou into the business end of the season.