- Blancos beaten by arch-rivals
- Swept aside in Saudi Arabia showpiece
- Missed out on more major silverware
WHAT HAPPENED? The latest Clasico encounter of 2022-23 was played out in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, with Barca getting their hands on the trophy courtesy of goals from Gavi, Robert Lewandowski and Pedri – with Karim Benzema grabbing a stoppage-time consolation for Madrid. Los Blancos were second best for much of the heavyweight encounter in the Middle East but, having claimed a 3-1 victory of their own over the Blaugrana at Santiago Bernabeu back in October, Ancelotti is refusing to read too much into one result.
WHAT THEY SAID: Ancelotti told reporters when it was suggested to him that Madrid had been humbled by their fiercest foes: “To say this was a sporting humiliation is a lack of respect. We lost a match to Barcelona, just as we won a match against them in La Liga. Barcelona were better today. That’s it. To say humiliation, that’s too much. In sport, sometimes you win, sometimes the opponent wins.
“It’s not a critical situation, but it’s a difficult situation. You have difficult moments in a season and we have to fix this soon with commitment. When you concede three goals, you need to be better in defence. We need to work on that. We’re not playing well right now. But, this team has the quality to be competitive in all the tournaments we have left. Real Madrid usually win finals, and we’ve lost this one, but we have a long season left.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Real swept to a La Liga and Champions League double under Ancelotti in 2021-22, while also claiming the Spanish Super Cup, but currently sit three points off the pace in defence of their domestic title and have a huge clash with Liverpool to come in the Champions League last 16.
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WHAT NEXT? Real will remain in cup competition when returning to action on Thursday, with a trip to Villarreal in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey next up for Ancelotti’s side.