Real Madrid’s 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City in Wednesday night’s Champions League semi-final second leg prompted an emotional backlash in the Spanish media, as attention turned to “pathetic, cowardly” coach Carlo Ancelotti.
City’s masterclass was “enough to make you cry,” according to AS, while Josep Pedrerol, presenter of LaSexta TV’s ‘Chiringuito’ sports show said: “Real is losing because of Ancelotti’s pathetic and cowardly approach.”
There was genuine shock at the one-sided nature of the defeat and calls for a complete overhaul of the club’s personnel.
The front-page headline of sports paper Marca could hardly be clearer: “A thrashing, of the kind that really hurts.” Marca said that Real had suffered a “90-minute-long nightmare” at the Etihad.
Rival sports paper AS went with a front-page photograph of Karim Benzema with his face in his hands and El Pais chief sports writer José Sámano described the night in Manchester as “an earthquake for Real.”
“What I cannot forgive is the impression Real have given in defeat,” said Tomás Roncero, chief Real Madrid correspondent for AS.
“Madrid were beaten 4-0 and you have to be thanking [Thibaut] Courtois it wasn’t by more.”
Guillem Balague, one of the most prominent Spanish football journalists wrote on Twitter that: “Few teams in the history of the game have reached this level.”
Asked about his future at Real Madrid, Ancelotti said afterwards there was “no doubt” and that club president Florentino Pérez had signalled his support for the coach.
But Predrag Mijatovic, who won LaLiga and the Champions League during his spell at the club, said: “I believe that we can clearly speak of a cycle that has ended.”
Like many other pundits, Mijatovic suggested that Carlo Ancelotti’s time was up.
“Tonight has shown that Real Madrid must think about the future, starting with the coach and the players,” he said. “
The team wasn’t good; the rival was much better. Now we have to make plans for this summer and for the future.”
Guardiola: ‘The Treble is there now – we can think about it’
By James Ducker
Pep Guardiola told his players to “visualise” winning the treble after hailing the greatest performance of his seven-year reign as Manchester City manager.
City crushed Real Madrid 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium to reach a second Champions League final in three years after channelling the “pain” of last season’s agonising defeat to the Spanish giants.
Inter Milan now stand between them and an elusive first European Cup in Istanbul on June 10, when Guardiola’s men could also become only the second English side in history to win the treble.
City will clinch a fifth Premier League title in six seasons if they beat Chelsea on Sunday – assuming Arsenal do not first gift them the trophy by losing at Nottingham Forest the day before – and also face Manchester United in the FA Cup final next month.
And Guardiola has urged his players to seize the chance to become history makers.
“We are there now and the players can think about it, visualise it,” he said. “We are three games away. One in each competition. We can do it.
“We need to win one more game in the Premier League, then we have our neighbours in the Cup and a Champions League final against an Italian side.
“The pleasure of being there and playing against Inter Milan is incalculable and we are going to enjoy the occasion.”
City’s stunning victory over Real – which Guardiola described as “the highest” of his tenure at the club – came 12 months after a dramatic late semi-final collapse at the Bernabeu.
“We still had that pain in our stomach from last year and we brought it all out today… we had the energy after so much pain last year,” he said.
“It was so hard and tough last season when we played quite similar to today and I remember Toni Kroos gave an interview saying they could have lost 10-1 or 10-2 [in the first leg] at the Etihad.
“Kroos is one of the best players I have ever seen and trained and when he says that it means we were there and it was really tough losing the way we lost. In that moment, we had to swallow poison but football and sport always gives you another chance.
“When the draw was Madrid, I said ‘Yeah, I want it’. I wanted it because I think today everything was there – the energy we had from a year of being criticised as players for not having character when we lost because it was football.
“Today it was there and I’m pleased for the whole organisation – for the chairman, owner, staff and especially all the players because we accepted the defeat and today we were there. “One year later, we are in the final of the Champions League. Football and life always give you opportunities if you don’t give up.”
Carlo Ancelotti, the Real coach, admitted his side had been well beaten but expressed no concerns over his future as manager. “No one doubts me, the president has been quite clear two weeks ago, there are no doubts about my staying on,” he said.