Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti gave a scathing assessment of his side’s performance following Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Espanyol, labelling it the team’s worst game of the season.
After drawing 0-0 at home to Villarreal last weekend and then suffering one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history by losing at home to rank outsiders Sheriff in mid-week, Real got off to a terrible start on their travels to Barcelona.
Raul de Tomas, who came through the ranks at Real’s academy, slid in to put Espanyol in front in the 17th minute.
The Catalans, who spent last season in Spain’s second division, consolidated their advantage with a goal from Aleix Vidal on the hour mark before Karim Benzema hit back for the visitors.
Ancelotti was fiercely critical of his team’s display.
‘I have to be honest, it’s our worst game,’ the Italian said.
‘We played badly. There isn’t much else to say.’
Real pulled off a stunning late comeback against Valencia in their last LaLiga outing but Ancelotti felt they struggled to cope with the early setback.
‘We started the game with an idea, and then with the goal we conceded we weren’t able to stay calm,’ he added.
‘There was confusion out on the pitch. The team wasn’t well positioned with or without the ball.’
Ancelotti gave Toni Kroos his first start of the season after a long injury lay off and played new signing Eduardo Camavinga on the left of midfield while deploying David Alaba at left-back after the Austrian had played mainly at centre-back since switching from Bayern Munich in the summer.
The coach did not want to dwell on his strategy, though, instead appearing to blame the players for not executing it.
‘I think the plan was quite clear, I’m not here to explain it, but I agree the team looked disorganised,’ Ancelotti added.
‘I thought that Alaba could help in attack. We didn’t have good balance on that side but that wasn’t his fault, I told him to push up and the midfielders had to cover him, but that didn’t happen.’
‘We didn’t have the right positioning with the ball… We have to fix it. I’ve spoken to the players and they agree.’
Real still top the standings after six games but are level on points with Atletico Madrid, who beat Barcelona 2-0 on Saturday, and Real Sociedad, who drew 1-1 at Getafe.
But Ancelotti admitted he was concerned about the team’s dip in form and results after making a flying start to his second tenure.
‘Now we have the international break and we have to reflect and digest how the team changed their attitude in one week,’ he said.
‘We were less aggressive, we lost a lot of duels. We deserved the defeat, we reacted too late and we’re worried because we’re not used to losing two games in a row.’
Defender Nacho added: ‘We weren’t comfortable. We conceded early and that makes the game tougher for you. We need to work on our defensive play and that will come with games.
‘We’ve got a number of players missing but we still have a good squad and we should be doing better than in our last three games. We need to improve at the back and respond.’