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First match of the year phobia; 3 out of 4 defeats for Carlo Ancelotti

Emmanuel Adjetey

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“We have stayed on vacation for one more day.” It is among Carlo Ancelotti’s most strong comments while serving as Real Madrid’s coach. Two years ago on January 2, in the press room of the Getafe stadium, he made that statement. Madrid, the overwhelming and uncontested winners of that League, began the new year with an empanada that was interpreted as a careless mistake by Militao, which Ünal exploited to snap a 15-game winning streak that consisted of 13 wins and 2 draws.

In the preceding season, Madrid, absent from league action before the World Cup, made a comeback on January 3 in the Cup, salvaging a win with Rodrygo’s goal. However, the 2023 LaLiga debut ended in a defeat against Villarreal, altering the balance of power in the league.

Reflecting on Ancelotti’s first season in 2013-14, it stands out as the only one witnessing a victory in the opening league match. A convincing 3-0 win against Celta marked the beginning of a remarkable 30-game unbeaten streak, propelling Madrid to triumph in the Cup and Champions League.

New Year defeats for Carlo

Ancelotti’s subsequent seasons featured New Year’s Day defeats, notably in 2014-15, where Madrid suffered losses both in LaLiga and the Cup. The world champion patch, earned with a 2-0 victory over San Lorenzo, faded with two defeats. The pattern continued in his tenure with Everton, facing defeats in 2020 and 2021.

Mallorca as a threat

Now, facing Mallorca in the upcoming match, the threat looms, but the venue shift to Madrid alters the dynamics. Nevertheless, Ancelotti remains vigilant, drawing on his varied career where the first league game of the year didn’t define his coaching legacy.

Across stints with Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Bayern, and Napoli, Ancelotti’s New Year’s Day record is diverse. Victories, draws, and occasional defeats have marked his journey, showcasing the unpredictability of football seasons and the resilience of a coach with a storied career.

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