Ancelotti defends his tactics after Madrid derby defeat
Real Madrid's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti is pictured during the Spanish Liga football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid CF at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 24, 2023. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

MADRID, Spain (AFP)— Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti dismissed doubts about his team and tactical set-up on Tuesday after they fell to their first defeat of the season in the Madrid derby.

Los Blancos won their first six games, five in La Liga and one in the Champions League, but were comfortably beaten 3-1 by rivals Atletico Madrid on Sunday at the Metropolitano.

The loss allowed champions Barcelona to reclaim top spot in La Liga, with the Catalans in action at Mallorca later Tuesday, while Real Madrid welcome Las Palmas on Wednesday.

"I have to evaluate things with balance, equilibrium is important -- luckily in my genetics I have that," Ancelotti told a news conference.

"Putting everything in doubt when you've won six games out of seven, it seems a bit rash."

The coach said Madrid needed to be self-critical after stumbling against Atletico but that he had made "a different evaluation" to many of his critics.

"When you are Real Madrid coach, criticism is normal when things don’t go well, it's something that doesn’t affect me," said Ancelotti.

"That said, you have to look self-critically at what we did well, which was a lot of things, and what we did badly, which was not much."

One of the areas of debate surrounding Madrid was Ancelotti's diamond midfield, which against Atletico saw Jude Bellingham pushed up front with Rodrygo Goes, while Luka Modric and Toni Kroos started.

"The system is not perfect," admitted the coach.

"Every system has its weakness. It allows us to be energetic and press high up the pitch, but sometimes we can be caught out from crosses because the midfielders don’t arrive to cover in time.

"The weakness is evident, and it can be fixed."

Some Spanish media reports have suggested Ancelotti could be replaced with Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso, who won the Champions League with Real as a player.

"He has great knowledge and the capacity to do it, I hope, he, Raul and (Alvaro) Arbeloa can be Madrid coaches one day because I like them a lot," said Ancelotti.

The Italian has agreed to coach the Brazilian national team after his contract expires at the Santiago Bernabeu next summer.

Ancelotti also confirmed Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior was fit, after a stomach problem prevented his return from a hamstring injury against Atletico on Sunday, along with summer arrival Arda Guler.

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