Ancelotti takes blame after Real Madrid's loss at Athletic Bilbao
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti believes his stellar 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.
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," he added. "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.
Madrid's fifth league defeat of the season came hot on the heels of a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal. They have surrendered 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," Ancelotti said. "We've only scored one goal from a penalty in two games. That is the problem we have to fix. We lack efficiency up front."
Los Blancos have badly missed the creative talents of Luka Modric and James Rodriguez in recent weeks through injury and Ancelotti has demands 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."
Madrid have just a fortnight to rediscover their form before traveling to face Barca in a potentially decisive Clasico on March 22. However, firstly they must see off Schalke at the 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," Ancelotti said. "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."