Season in review: The year of Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid

Position: 1st – 95 points

Grade: A+

Record: 29-8-1
Goals Scored: 87
Goals Conceded: 26

Top Scorer: Vinicius Junior – 24

Top Assister: Jude Bellingham – 13

Story of the season

Real Madrid lost Karim Benzema last summer, and while Jude Bellingham arrived, it seemed Los Blancos were destined for a difficult year when losing Eder Militao and Thibaut Courtois, probably the best of their back five from the previous season. They would return in the last month or two, but of course Los Blancos also lost David Alaba in January for the rest of the year too.

They were not playing especially brilliant football, but they were getting results, swept up in the arrival of Bellingham not just to the club, rather into the box too. His goals kept Real Madrid atop La Liga as they went through their usual teething problems before Christmas.

In the second half of the season, and with the return of Vinicius, Los Blancos slowly began tearing opponents apart, and their results in the final stretch showed just how brilliant he is in full flow.

The focus by that point was naturally on the Champions League though, and once again they pulled off the superhuman stunts of survival against Manchester City and Bayern Munich. Los Blancos walk out ten feet tall at the moment, and only Atletico Madrid managed to beat them all years. Close enough to a perfect season.

Grade Explanation

Bearing in mind the injuries, it’s very hard to do things as well as Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid have this year. Everyone in the side, with perhaps the exception of Rodrygo Goes had at least spells where they were as good as anybody around, and the Italian got all of his big decisions right: Vinicius moved inside, Jude Bellingham playing further forward, and then switched to the left in order to cover defensively. Moving Fede Valverde back to a double pivot with Toni Kroos when they were without Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos worked wonders too.

This Real Madrid team are very good, and very hard to beat, clearly. Neither do they give off the air of one of the great sides in the history of football either though – although the arrival of Kylian Mbappe might raise their ceiling. So the fact they completed a Liga and Champions League double for the second time in three years deserves even more credit.

Standout moment: Jude Bellingham’s thunderbolt against Barcelona at Montjuic in their 2-1 win. There’s an array to pick out, and Joselu Mato and Andriy Lunin deserve their spot too, but Bellingham’s goal was one of truly outstanding ability and footballing arrogance.

Key player: Toni Kroos – maybe we’re just getting melancholy already. But Vinicius missed large chunks of the year through injury, and Bellingham struggled much more in the second half of the season. Antonio Rudiger also in with a shout, but Kroos was untouchable all year.

Surprise of the season: A few candidates, but hard to look past Lunin. Even Real Madrid didn’t think he was that good, that’s why they paid Kepa Arrizabalaga all year. Crucial to both of their major titles.

Glass half full

It’s not particularly hard to be optimistic about the future is it? Brahim Diaz and Arda Guler earned the right to join the list of young talents. They are the best team in the world right now, and Kylian Mbappe is joining them. Enough said.

Glass half empty

Even having witnessed the strife of the Galactico era, even we feel it’s slightly reaching to suggest Mbappe will arrive, spoil ‘the best dressing room Carlo Ancelotti’s ever had’, and cause tactical problems for them.

Much more of an issue is the exit of Kroos. It’s massive that Luka Modric is back next year given they are losing him, but Modric rarely plays as deep as Kroos for long. Ancelotti said it – there’s no-one like him out there, even if they have arguably the best replacements they could’ve found.

What could cause tactical issues is if Ancelotti wants to, or is encouraged to, play Rodrygo Goes alongside Mbappe and Vinicius – in certain games. Equally, it’s just really hard to maintain the levels of performance and consistency they’ve had this year.

The post Season in review: The year of Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid appeared first on Football España.

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