3 key changes Ancelotti made to outsmart Guardiola and lead Real Madrid to a win against Man City
Carlo Ancelotti won the tactical battle against Pep Guardiola, here’s how he did it.
While City’s collapse was mostly Pep Guardiola’s fault, Carlo Ancelotti also made some tactical adjustments to shift the tie in Real Madrid’s favour.
Here are the three major changes Don Carlo made to facilitate one of the most dramatic comebacks in Champions League history.
Switching the formation
Real Madrid started the game with a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Fede Valverde given the mobility to join the front two, Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema.
That worked to limit Manchester City’s midfield dominance but offered Real Madrid little offensively which was a problem because they were trailing.
Ancelotti changed that in the 68th minute by taking off Toni Kroos and replacing him with a forward in Rodrygo which meant Valverde could concentrate on his midfield duties while Los Blancos finally had an actual front three.
Although Madrid went on to concede five minutes after the substitution, it was Rodrygo who facilitated the comeback with two late goals.
Going all out
After Mahrez scored to put Manchester two goals up on aggregate, Ancelotti responded with two substitutions to switch the formation again and ultimately change the game.
Marco Asensio replaced Casemiro while Edouardo Camavinga came on for Luka Modric to shift the shape from 4-3-3 to 4-2-1-3.
Staring down the barrel of defeat and almost certain elimination, Ancelotti knew he had to go for it, especially with Pe Guardiola showing signs of nervousness.
Taking advantage of Pep’s frailties
With five minutes left in the game, Real Madrid started becoming more aggressive which made Guardiola nervous and prompted him to play his hand.
The City boss took off Mahrez the goalscorer and replaced him with Fernadinho in hopes of sealing up the game and solidifying the defence but it backfired.
It turns out what City really needed was to keep possession of the ball rather than ceding it willingly and expecting 37-year old Fernandinho to stop Madrid from scoring.
Having been there and done it many times, Ancelotti smelled blood in the water and his team turned up the intensity, putting in a barrage of crosses and progressing the ball into the opposition penalty area more times in those closing minutes than they had managed the whole game.
Needless to say, it paid dividends as Rodrygo scored two dramatic late goals to send the game to extra time and then sealed passage to the final thanks to Karim Benzema’s penalty.