Carlo Ancelotti saw an even greater defeat. real Madrid in the semi-finals of the European Cup. He actually scored a goal. Record continental losses came to Arrigo Sacchi at San Siro. Milan The first of Rossoneri’s five goals scored by Ancelotti in 1989. The Milan side was perhaps the best club game had ever seen; until many argue, Pep Guardiolaof Barcelona.

But the Real team of the late 1980s was less elite than the class of 2023. who was destroyed 4-0 by Guardiola Manchester City.

However, in the period between Guardiola’s victory at Barcelona in 2011 and the Catalan perhaps their third victory. Champions League In the next month in Istanbul, Real became the king of Europe five times. The club, which has an indelible relationship with winning, has passed the style awards to others. They simply won.

Proven greatness in the trophy cabinet. They played by their own rules. The unique dynamics at the Bernabeu are such that ending a campaign with neither the La Liga nor the Champions League forces them to sack the coach in some way, whether it’s really the right decision or not or the change is an upgrade.

Until now? Ancelotti insisted. “I will be here to win another Champions League next season,” he said. Nobody doubts me. The President was pretty clear two weeks ago: There is no doubt that I will stay.”

Often the friendly realist, the most decorated manager in European Cup history, can take advantage of the inside. But for once, he spoke like a man in denial. “Other than that, I don’t think we should do a drama,” Ancelotti added. “Things happen in football. They were better than us today. It’s been a good season; getting to the semi-finals in the Champions League is a success.” All of this would have sounded perfectly reasonable if expressed by the managers of many other clubs.

But this is true. A club where every Champions League debut is a drama, where the manager is a prime target for symbolic sacrifice, a seismic setback requires change.

When they last lost 4-0 to Liverpool in England in 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema responded with a record spending spree. 14 years, 645 matches and 352 goals later, Benzema is still there. Truth has transformed experience into a being; at times, it seemed like their trump card. They can defeat opponents; until City suddenly makes Real look old, outpacing Real.

Perhaps this could be summed up by Luka Modric’s replacement for Antonio Rudiger with a defender with half an hour remaining so that Eduardo Camavinga’s younger legs could be freed in midfield. Seven minutes later, his longtime aide Toni Kroos took his place; He had set the bar, and therefore, even in a decisive defeat, Real might wonder what could happen, but these are the emotions they have evoked in others over the years.

Jude Bellingham might already be Real’s top signing this summer, but if it’s like part of his future planning, it’s tempting to wonder if the future 37-year-old and 33-year-old player is finally showing his age.

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Is it the end of an era or just one bad night against what is now probably the best in Europe? Guardiola said: “I don’t think it’s the end of a division in Madrid. Real has a two-generation team; they have 21st century born champions in Camavinga, Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior. They have flourished. They had previously lost to City and they responded: They were eliminated by Guardiola in 2020, winning the competition again in 2022. Ancelotti argued prior to that match that the Champions League was their “special strength”, until they abandoned them in the middle of a 90-minute show of City’s running power.

Speaking of the greater physicality and intensity of the Premier League, it sounds like Real has been defending mainland Europe against British occupation in recent years.

They used their histories, their ancestry, their ability to track matches and win key moments, the seeming timelessness of Modric and Benzema, and the explosive power of Vinicius. They beat Chelsea, City and Liverpool last season, repeating this feat by eliminating Liverpool and Chelsea. And then they were so blown away at the Etihad that it wasn’t just the scoreline that brought back memories of Anfield in 2009.

“They’re an outstanding team,” insisted Guardiola. “It doesn’t mean they are a bad team or that Carlo is a bad manager.”

If this is clearly true, Ancelotti looks unmatched, her Zen calmness making her best suited to the rhythm of this competition. However, it is always the case that the parties seem effortlessly controlled when they win and passive and powerless when they lose. When Bernardo Silva scored his second goal in the first half, he impotently tapped his fingers on his upper lip. He could have beaten Modric and Kroos, but last season’s comeback kings Real accepted two more instead.

Four games left, but with perhaps the only club to fire a four-time Champions League winner, this felt like the end of the game.