The favor of the referee and the morale of his players overshadowed the fact that Carlo Ancelotti had actually messed himself up during Real Madrid’s comeback against Almeria
While Almeria coach Gaizka Garitano had to pull himself together on the touchline to avoid going completely off the rails – he would later see a yellow-red – Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti had to pull himself together after the third tricky VAR situation went in his favor, perhaps to avoid looking too relieved.
The fact that the theoretical league leaders – at this point Real (20 games, 51 points) were still ahead of Girona (21 games, 52 points) – needed an almost outrageous amount of luck to finally win at home against the still winless bottom club in the ninth minute of stoppage time had a lot to do with the experienced Italian.
Ancelotti doesn’t like to rotate – only late on Sunday
The four-time Champions League winner has been repeating for years that he always wants to and will use the best players available to him whenever possible. This also applies to the home game against the team bottom of the table. Even after English weeks with intensive Supercopa matches in Saudi Arabia and another 120 minutes in the cup with Atletico.
The consequence? Ancelotti’s regular players were not at their best on Sunday afternoon, carelessly falling behind in the very first minute of the game at the Bernabeu. After that, they started uninspired, hardly managed anything offensively and, visibly overplayed, conceded 2-0 before the break – and not even undeservedly so.
Ancelotti realized what was happening and made three changes straight after the break. And lo and behold, the more rested and motivated substitutes immediately made a better, sharper impression. You could have guessed that beforehand
Nevertheless, the baby had already fallen into the well at this point and Real only managed to get it out again in the second half with the help of the referees. Three controversial VAR interventions within a very short space of time – each of which could have been decided either way – all went in Real’s favor. Balanced is different. You could understand Garitano.
So did Ancelotti, who turned his relief into anger after the final whistle. “I’m angry with myself,” he confessed afterwards and made no secret at the press conference of who had almost let this compulsory task go to waste: “A lot of players have lost energy recently, which I wasn’t aware of enough.” Despite the late victory, he should now be aware that he won’t be so lucky every time