Updated May 5th, 2024 at 13:38 IST

No Striker, Injury woes: How Ancelotti overcame adversity to guide Real Madrid to 36th La Liga title

In a season filled with injuries and absentees here's how Carlo Ancelotti overcame adversity to guide Real Madrid to their 36th La Liga Crown.

Reported by: Sahil Kapoor
Carlo Ancelotti | Image:AP
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Real Madrid have been crowned the Champions of Spain for a record 36th time after Barcelona lost 4-2 to Girona meant that it became impossible to catch the Blancos at the top of the La Liga standings.ย 

However the road for Los Blancos towards their 36th La Liga crown was in no shape easy as the season started with a tonne of uncertainty. The departure of Karim Benzema, not signing a replacement striker, ACL injuries to key players like Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao and David Alaba felt like doomsday at Bernabeu as everyone expected Real Madrid to endure a rocky 2023-24 season. ย 

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But as the dust settled in Spain, not only did Real Madrid win La Liga they simply ran away with the title and in the end won with four games to spare and a margin of 13 points at the time of writing.ย 

So how did Carlo Ancelotti manage to guide a seemingly dead Real Madrid to a 36th La Liga triumph and on the verge of another potential UEFA Champions League Final.ย 

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The Jude Bellingham Masterstroke

There is only one place to start deciphering Real Madrid's season and that is the impact of their Galactico signing of the summer Jude Bellingham. When Real Madrid signed the young English midfielder everyone knew the talent Blancos were acquiring but no one quite knew the superstar Jude will become inside his first few months at Madrid.

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And a massive credit for Jude's rise goes to Carlo Ancelotti. When Ancelotti said in pre season that his idea of replacing Benzema was Jude Bellingham, people laughed. But as it turned out putting Bellingham in the false nine role turned out to be an ingenious move by Italian as Jude went on to score 18 goals in 26 La Liga appearances this season. Many of those goals came in the dying seconds to rescue all three points for Real.

A system built on Fluidity and Freedomย 

Carlo Ancelotti's biggest strength over the years has been his ability to adapt, improvise, change and reinvent. And this season at Real Madrid the best thing Carlo Ancelotti did was allow his players freedom to move positions on the pitch, to take their own decisions.ย 

Real Madrid player celebrate Jude Bellingham's goal against Cadiz. Image/AP

Real Madrid attackers in Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo had the freedom to slot in at left and right flank or come through at the centre position based on the opponent and match situation. Further, Ancelotti gave his midfielders freedom in moving from box to box and changing systems to confuse opponents. Ancelotti's freedom was praised by Jude Bellingham post Real Madrid knocked Manchester City out of the UEFA Champions league Quarterfinals.

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Finding solutions to turn weakness into strengths

The story of the season for Real Madrid has been key players getting injured time and again and Carlo Ancelotti coming up with answers. At the start of the season, Real Madrid's defence felt virtually over with injury to Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba, Eder Militao and nibbling knocks to Ferlan Mendy. Facing adversity Carlo Ancelotti backed Andriy Lunin to take Courtois's place and Lunin paid his manager back.ย 

However, it was Ancelotti's decision to utilise midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni as a makeshift centre back that turned out to be ingenious. Tchouameni formed a solid partnership with Antonio Rudiger in defence and Real Madrid suddenly transformed into one of the best defensive sides in Europe. Additionally, discovering inspiration from players like Brahim Diaz and Joselu has also propelled Ancelotti towards La Liga.ย 

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It is all about the players

Carlo Ancelotti rarely ever makes success about himself. Perhaps the quality that makes Ancelotti so successful and loved by the players is that whenever the team does Ancelotti makes sure that the players get all the credit and when the team goes through a rough, Carlo shields his players and shoulders all the blame.ย 

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Carlo Ancelotti's this quality is what makes his players tick as each and every member of the squad is ready to leave it all out on the pitch for the team, for the club and for the manager. With the increased togetherness and sense of purpose in the dressing room Carlo Ancelotti has instilled the belief among his players that they can overcome any adversirty.ย 

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Published May 5th, 2024 at 13:27 IST