Carlo Ancelotti's decision to bench Antonio Rudiger and opt for Eder Militao in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City raised eyebrows and left many questioning the wisdom behind the move. Rudiger's outstanding performance in the first leg, where he neutralised Erling Haaland, played a significant role in Real Madrid securing a vital 1-1 draw. However, Ancelotti's choice to replace Rudiger ultimately proved to be a costly one. In this article, we delve into the reasons why Ancelotti's decision to bench Rudiger in favour of Militao against Manchester City was questionable.
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Rudiger's Defensive Masterclass
In the first leg, Antonio Rudiger showcased his defensive prowess by successfully thwarting the threat posed by Erling Haaland. The German centre-back matched Haaland's speed, physicality, and tenacity throughout the match, effectively nullifying the Norwegian talisman's impact on the game. Rudiger's exceptional reading of the game, timely interceptions, and resolute defending kept City's attack at bay, contributing significantly to Real Madrid's crucial 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.
The Importance of Continuity
Football is a sport that thrives on continuity and understanding among teammates. Rudiger's partnership with the regular first-choice centre-back, Eder Militao, had been developing throughout the season, and they had established a solid defensive pairing. Ancelotti's decision to disrupt this partnership by benching Rudiger and introducing Militao in such a crucial match could have disrupted the defensive cohesion and communication within the team.
Haaland's increased influence
Without Rudiger's presence, Haaland was afforded more freedom and space to operate in the second leg. His influence on the game became more pronounced as Militao struggled to replicate Rudiger's effectiveness in containing the Norwegian striker. Haaland's increased influence ultimately resulted in a more potent Manchester City attack, putting Real Madrid's defence under significant pressure throughout the match.
The Impact on Team Morale
Benching a player who had put on a defensive masterclass in the first leg could have had a negative impact on team morale. Rudiger's absence may have affected the confidence and trust among the players, as they recognised the significance of his contribution in the previous match. This psychological factor could have played a role in the team's overall performance and contributed to a lacklustre display against Manchester City.
Carlo Ancelotti's decision to bench Antonio Rudiger in favour of Eder Militao against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final second leg proved to be a questionable move. Rudiger's defensive masterclass in the first leg showcased his ability to neutralise one of Europe's most dangerous strikers, Erling Haaland. Ancelotti's decision disrupted the continuity within the defence and allowed Haaland to have a more significant impact on the game.
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