SportsAnother limit night for Real Madrid in Kiev

Another limit night for Real Madrid in Kiev

Kiev has been in recent years a city where Real Madrid goes to appease a deep unease and from which it returns in flames, even when the night ends soaked in champagne. The penultimate time, in 2018, he appeared at the Olímpico willing to determine if there was still a rope left for an already legendary group that had won three of the last four Champions. He won the fourth, the third in a row, but the return to Spain more than a celebration was an earthquake because of the announcements that Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale had made still on the grass that they wanted to leave.

The last time, on December 1 of last year, after a bumpy road through the group stage of the Champions League, Madrid arrived in Kiev with the purpose of putting the pass to the second round against Shakhtar, and got on the plane of round defeated (1-0) and with the telephones in the dome fuming. The game had been played on the first shift, at 6:55 p.m., and several media published that the senior leadership was a little push away from firing Zinedine Zidane. Two hours later, in the second turn, at 9:00 p.m., Inter came back and won in Mönchengladbach, so that Madrid just had to defeat the Germans at Di Stéfano to go to the second round. The fire burned less and the media that had advanced it reduced the imminence of the technician’s dismissal.

Yesterday they landed in Ukraine for tonight’s game against Shakhtar (21.00, Movistar Champions League) also with a hangover of doubts. This time because of the disappointing last three games, the first big bump of the course: a draw (0-0 with Villarreal) and two defeats (1-2 against the Sheriff and 2-1 against Espanyol). “In the last three games we have not been at our level,” Luka Modric summed up yesterday. “We do not have much more room to be wrong,” he said, recalling that they had already lost a duel in this Champions League.

Carlo Ancelotti agreed at the trial: “The end before the break we did not do well. The next two games are very very important: tomorrow’s [por hoy] and that of Barcelona in the League [el domingo en el Camp Nou]”, said. Kiev again as a checkpoint for recent difficulties, like a year ago. Now some of the outstanding issues are similar. The team has improved the attack – it developed at the beginning of the season with Benzema and Vinicius fired – but went to the national team break without having been able to adjust the defensive problems, which Ancelotti attributes to disorder. “A bit of order has been lacking, but in the break we have worked on the mistakes we have made, although the entire squad was not there,” he explained.

Tortuous recovery

In any case, Madrid has been one of the teams in the League that has had more time, after its weekend match against Athletic was postponed. And the pause has given them room to recover a decisive piece for the balance of the defensive puzzle. Ferland Mendy flew with the team yesterday, five and a half months after the last game he played, in May against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the defeat that left them without a Champions League final (2-0).

The recovery from the tibial periostitis of the left leg has been long and with some last minute setback. Mendy came into the squad for Real Madrid-Celta on September 12, the return to the Bernabéu, but ended up being left out due to a sore thigh. This time, according to Ancelotti, it seems that yes: “Mendy has recovered well, he is available,” he said, although without revealing if enough to be a starter. “It is important for us because we have had a problem on the left wing, where we are only left with Miguel Gutiérrez,” he said.

The absence of the first left-back caused a chain problem that ended up destabilizing the defensive fabric. Miguel contributed a lot in attack, but has not yet set in defense; and Nacho did not add up enough, so the Italian coach tried to remove Alaba from his position as center-back and head of defense to place him on the wing.

The recovery of the Frenchman allows Ancelotti to finally have enough pieces to begin to straighten that disorder to which he blames defensive weakness, a rift similar to that exploded by Shakhtar last year, on another test night in Kiev that ended in fire.

You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES in Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.