‘Confusing’ ineffectiveness of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale strike force undermines Real Madrid

'I think the problem we are having at the moment is quite clear. It is not a defensive problem, it is an offensive problem' fumed Carlo Ancelotti after Real Madrid's 1-0 loss on Saturday to Athletic Bilbao.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during his side's 1-0 La Liga loss to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Ander Gillenea / AFP / March 7, 2015
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during his side's 1-0 La Liga loss to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Ander Gillenea / AFP / March 7, 2015

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti believes his star strike force of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema need to be more efficient in front of goal after the European champions slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Madrid’s fifth league defeat of the season came hot on the heels of a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal as they have ceded the advantage in the La Liga title race to Barcelona – who can move to the top of the table with victory over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

“I think the problem we are having at the moment is quite clear. It is not a defensive problem, it is an offensive problem. We are not finding a way through like we did in the games before. We’ve only scored one goal from a penalty in two games,” said Ancelotti.

“That is the problem we have to fix. We lack efficiency up front.”

Madrid have badly missed the creative talents of Luka Modric and James Rodriguez in recent weeks through injury and Ancelotti wants more speed injected into his side’s forward play.

“There is no connection. There is too much individual play, we are looking for individual solutions. We need another way of attacking, more combinations between players, to try to play quicker and with fewer touches.

“It is quite confusing what we are doing when we are attacking at the moment.”

Ancelotti himself has come under some criticism for his inability to halt Madrid’s slide in recent months after a 22-game winning streak to end a trophy-laden 2014.

And the Italian admitted that as the coach he has to burden most of the blame.

“I have a big part of the blame because I am the coach. There are some coaches that say ‘this isn’t my team’ when the team plays badly, but I am saying this is my team that it is playing badly.

“I have all the responsibility, but I am not going to give up. The league now seems more difficult than before but it is not over and we are going to fight to fix the situation quickly.

“With the quality of strikers we have I think we can find it quickly.”

Madrid have just a fortnight to rediscover their form before travelling to face Barca in a potentially decisive match in the title race on March 22.

However, firstly they must see off Schalke at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday to seal their place in the last eight of the Champions League for a fifth consecutive season.

“We know every game at this stage of the season is important and I don’t think it is a lack of attitude, it is a technical problem,” added Ancelotti, with the holders holding a 2-0 advantage over the Bundesliga side from the first leg.

“The front three didn’t play well, but it is not just their fault. We need to attack as a team.

“It seems strange to say Madrid have a problem up front when we have scored so many goals throughout the season, but I think it is the truth.”

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Published: March 8, 2015 04:00 AM

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