Real Madrid are seeking to work their way out of a difficult moment of form, having failed to win any of their last three games in 90 minutes. That run was of course compounded by the fact their last match was a damaging defeat to Barcelona.
The big issue has been their defence. Real Madrid have the joint-eighth best defence in La Liga and have just four clean sheets in domestic competition this season.
Speaking to Marca ahead of their Copa del Rey tie against Villarreal, Carlo Ancelotti was asked if Nacho Fernandez – being a ‘pessimistic’ defender as the Italian described him, might be able to help them solve those issues.
“He is a very reliable defender, he played very well against Valencia and now he can contribute good things. We have conceded six goals and in five they could be avoided with a little more pessimism.”
Nacho’s contract is up at the end of the season. There is plenty of speculation that he may leave, having not featured extensively this season.
Ancelotti’s words add to a consistent line of criticism of his defenders in recent weeks. When asked about the role of the manager in the modern world, Ancelotti again seemed to hint that his side was not doing the basics.
“It’s not that complicated, it’s just being as objective as possible and doing things as simply as possible. In football, the easiest thing possible is to defend well.”
With Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez injured, young Brazilian Vinicius Tobias has been called up from the Castilla side. It is thought that either Tobias or Nacho will take the vacant spot at right-back.
“Tobias is in the squad and can contribute to the team tomorrow. Carvajal and Lucas are not there, and [Alvaro] Odriozola comes out of injury.”
Real Madrid face a tricky run ahead, with Villarreal their first test on Thursday night. Thereafter, they face two European contenders in Athletic Club and Real Sociedad, before Valencia visit the Santiago Bernabeu.