Champions League or bust for Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid?

Bernabeu Outside

After losing the Clasico against Barcelona, pressure increases on Ancelotti to deliver silverware at Real Madrid this season.

The 2-1 defeat at the Camp Nou in Sunday's Clasico clash of La Liga titans, certainly wasn't what Real Madrid were hoping for, as they slipped further behind Barcelona in the title race.

Whilst it was a tightly contested encounter, ultimately it's the result that matters most for Real Madrid, although with ten games of the season remaining in La Liga, there's still time left to claw their way back in the fight for pole position in La Liga. Getting there may now require a tremendous amount of fortune though, and for sure, Ancelotti's men will need to produce a perfect run of results to get them back there.

However, in 2015 so far they haven't been able to produce the sort of consistency, displayed so emphatically during the first half of the season. 22 straight wins in all competitions, including 12 in La Liga, seem but a distant memory now.

Aside from a slip-up at home against Malaga a few weeks back, Barcelona have looked almost untouchable. A four-point gap can never be considered insurmountable, if Real Madrid still harbour ambitions of being crowned La Liga champions, but it is looking increasingly unlikely now.

Despite the public showing of support by club president, Florentino Pérez, who underlined the 2014 success Ancelotti brought to the club, guiding the team to four trophies, behind the scenes and especially at a club with such high expectations as Real Madrid, patience has its limits.

Failure to win La Liga last season was offset by Real Madrid winning 'La Décima', Ancelotti masterminding an important European triumph in the Champions League. It could be argued that winning that coveted piece of silverware and its significance, kept the Italian in his job at the Bernabéu.

Can Ancelotti rely on continued support this season? Well, if a second season without winning La Liga becomes a reality, and having been knocked out of the Copa del Rey relatively early in the competition this season by Atletico Madrid, beating the city rivals in red and white may just dictate how certain the future is for the Real Madrid boss.

Behind closed doors, when Atlético Madrid were paired with Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, one can only imaging there being a few grimaces at the Bernabéu. Their track record under Ancelotti against Simeone's charges has been far from spectacular, discounting of course the final in Lisbon last season.

Losing against arch-rivals Barcelona in the Clasico was a hammer blow for Real Madrid in the title race. Anything but victory over two legs against Atletico Madrid, then going all the way to winning the Champions League for a second successive season, could leave Ancelotti clearing his desk at the end of this season.

Beyond that possible outcome, the question emerges as to who Real Madrid would turn to, if they're to replace someone of Ancelotti's stature and undeniable success.

Over the last twelve months, the waves of speculation that Zinedine Zidane is being groomed for the top job at the Bernabéu, has grown every stronger. Currently managing the B team in the Spanish third-tier, the iconic Frenchman may well be working towards much bigger targets next season.

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