MADRID, Spain, January 8 – Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti believed his side lacked penetration as they left themselves with a mountain to climb if they are to progress to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey after a 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Ancelotti’s men have now suffered back-to-back defeats after a run of 22 consecutive wins to end 2014 and three of their five losses this season have come at the hands of the Spanish champions.
Both sides meet again for the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on January 15.
“I think to call it a crisis is a bit exaggerated,” said the Italian.
“We controlled the game well until the penalty and then we didn’t play well in the final part of the game.
“We needed a bit more efficiency in the final pass in the first-half. We played a lot of square balls, but Atletico also defended well. They always defend together and compact so it is difficult to find a solution.”
Ancelotti had left Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, but otherwise named a strong side including Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema.
The World Player of the Year was summoned after Raul Garcia had put Atletico in front from the penalty spot just before the hour mark, but made little impact as the hosts went onto double their lead through Jose Gimenez’s powerful header 13 minutes from time.
“Ronaldo was a bit tired, so it was a risk to play him for the full 90 minutes,” Ancelotti explained.
“We have a chance. It is clear that Atletico have the advantage, but at home anything can happen. The odds aren’t in our favour but we will try our best.”
Fernando Torres’s return to Atletico ensured there was a buoyant atmosphere at the Vicente Calderon throughout.
And he was delighted to register his first win over Real as an Atletico player despite a far from perfect performance on his part which saw him replaced after an hour.
“I am happy for many reasons,” said the former Liverpool and Chelsea striker.
“For the result, the atmosphere we experienced, the fans, for everything.”
“The result gives us a great chance, but 2-0 is never definitive at the Bernabeu. There 90 minutes can seem like a very long time.”
Atletico boss Diego Simeone insisted Torres will improve with more time to adjust to his new teammates and the Argentine reserved special praise for the fringe members of his squad after making seven changes from the side that beat Levante at the weekend.
“Fernando transmits excitement and energy to the fans. He is fast, strong, but he needs time to bed into our style of play.
“To compete with other teams you have to compete inside the squad. Thanks to the work of the coaches those who don’t always play are always alert and ready.
“To compete in the competitions you have to use the whole group. It doesn’t matter if it is a friendly, the Champions League, Copa del Rey or La Liga we will try to compete.”