Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has no intention of altering his tactics because of the European champions’ indifferent domestic form, the Italian said on Monday.
Real host Schalke 04 in a Champions League last 16, second leg on Tuesday and should have little trouble getting past the Bundesliga side into the quarter-finals as they have a 2-0 advantage from last month’s first leg in Gelsenkirchen.
However, a 1-0 reverse at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, coming hard on the heels of a 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal, meant Barcelona leapfrogged Real into top spot in La Liga and alarm bells are ringing at the Bernabeu.
Ancelotti, who led Real to a record-extending 10th European crown last season, typically plays with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale across the forward line.
The normally prolific trio, known in Spain as “BBC”, have gone off the boil since the turn of the year, prompting calls for Real to switch to a more conservative 4-4-2 lineup.
Ancelotti told a news conference previewing the Schalke game he was not about to drop any of his three forwards or switch tactics and insisted he had full faith in them.
“We are not going to change our identity, we have scored a lot of goals playing that way,” Ancelotti said.
“If they are in good shape physically it is non-negotiable that they will play,” he added.
“They have given us a lot and I have total confidence in them. They have suffered a dip in form, but that is what happens, not just with the three of them.
“They have scored less lately because the team is not helping the forwards.”
Bale, in particular, has come in for criticism and is struggling to shake off a perception that he often opts to shoot on goal when a team mate is better placed.
Ancelotti defended the Wales winger, although he acknowledged Bale had been struggling.
“I don’t think that Bale is happy with what he is doing. He understands that well and is going to try to improve.”
Real have midfielders Luka Modric and Sami Khedira back from injury for the Schalke game and Ancelotti said both would get some playing time on Tuesday.
Another injury casualty, centre back Sergio Ramos, would not return to action until Sunday’s La Liga game at home to Levante, Ancelotti added.