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Real Madrid

Sub for Isco understandable

Real Madrid
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Corrigan: Madrid extend Liga lead

La Liga
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Ancelotti replacing Isco with Illarramendi an understandable call

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti breaks down Real Madrid's draw to Villarreal, and what that means for the La Liga title race.

The knives were out for manager Carlo Ancelotti after Real Madrid's 1-1 draw Sunday night against an under-strength Villarreal side. Madrid had not dropped league points on home soil since losing to Atletico Madrid in September and were up against a side fielding their second string in all but name.

Top scorer Luciano Vietto was rested, captain Bruno Soriano was injured and creative spark Denis Cheryshev was not allowed to play against his parent club, owing to the terms of his loan deal. Marcelino...

 By Rob Train

Ancelotti's "untouchables" stance isn't helping Real Madrid

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti breaks down Real Madrid's draw to Villarreal, and what that means for the La Liga title race.

You can't really fault Carlo Ancelotti's tenure at Real Madrid. Delivering the Decima guaranteed plenty of leeway at the club, and galvanizing the squad after the fractious reign of predecessor Jose Mourinho was exactly why the affable Italian was hired. Real lead the league table going into March, are very much in the running to retain their European crown, and by and large the players are focused entirely on the good of the collective. After less than two seasons at the Bernabeu, it really is...

What happened to Jese at Real? Plus: Atletico's indiscipline could be costly

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti breaks down Real Madrid's draw to Villarreal, and what that means for the La Liga title race.

Such is my regard for what he achieves and, in almost equal proportion, how he goes about achieving his triumphs, it's rare that I'm motivated to criticise Carlo Ancelotti -- but it's appropriate right now.

First of all he bears some direct responsibility for Madrid not sneaking Sunday night's game against Villarreal 2-1 and sitting four points ahead of Barcelona with three weeks to go until el Clasico at the Camp Nou. With just a handful of minutes left, Sergio Asenjo pawed at a cross from the...

Ancelotti defends Isco in Madrid draw with Villarreal; Barca back in business

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti breaks down Real Madrid's draw to Villarreal, and what that means for the La Liga title race.

Five thoughts gleaned from La Liga's weekend fixtures, as Real Madrid were held by Villarreal at the Bernabeu, while Barcelona continued to bounce back with a win over Granada, and Atletico were held by European-chasing Sevilla.

1. Isco not an untouchable galactico just yet

Real Madrid remain La Liga leaders after their 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal on Sunday night, but the game again showed how Isco has a ways to go before being confirmed as first choice for coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Pregame praise...

Casillas keeps Real from suffering Villarreal surprise at the Bernabeu

ESPN FC's Tommy Smyth breaks down Real Madrid's 1-1 draw with Villarreal.

Real Madrid's lead at the top of La Liga has been cut to two points after Carlo Ancelotti's men were forced to accept their first league draw of the season, 1-1, against a much-changed but equally-impressive Villarreal side at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night.

Gerardo Moreno's second-half leveller secured the Yellow Submarine a point and ensured Madrid were no longer than only side in La Liga without a draw to their name. Cristiano Ronaldo had fired the hosts ahead in the 52nd minute from...

 By Rob Train

Real Madrid set to benefit as Villarreal rest stars at Bernabeu

The ESPN FC crew weigh in on the possibility of players striking in MLS, the role of Isco at Real Madrid and their preference between Rakitic and Fabregas.

The upcoming fixture calendar has been kind to Real Madrid, as they prepare to face a Villarreal side not-so-fresh from Europa League action.

Future opponents Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona also both will have played midweek matches before meeting a rested Madrid in the league.

Athletic face Espanyol in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Wednesday before welcoming Real to San Mames three days later, while Real don't face Schalke until March 10 with Levante at home on March 15.

Meanwhile, Barca play Man...