Madrid: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is counting on his wealth of experience to help fix the holders` midfield woes as they prepare to host FC Basel in Tuesday`s Champions League Group B opener at the Bernabeu.
Real`s poor start to their La Liga campaign continued on Saturday when they were beaten 2-1 at home by champions Atletico Madrid and the departure of Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria in the close season appears to have disrupted the balance of the team that won a 10th continental crown last term.
New signings Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez have yet to reproduce the form that made them two of the top performers at the World Cup in Brazil but Ancelotti appears confident he can find a quick solution.
The Italian, a former midfielder himself who ended Real`s 12-year wait for their 10th European title in his debut season, plans to draw on tactical knowledge learned during coaching stints in Italy, England and France to help the world`s richest club by income overcome their early-season problems.
Ancelotti is one of only six people to win Europe`s elite club competition as both player and coach and the second manager after Liverpool great Bob Paisley to win three times.
"I have a lot of experience in this," Ancelotti told a news conference when quizzed about Real`s midfield difficulties after a second straight La Liga defeat.
"I am looking for balance with quality players, it`s what makes the difference," he added.
"There are times in football when things don`t go well and we have to react quickly because we have another game on Tuesday.
"In the first half we played very well, with aggression and intensity. Later on, we dropped our rhythm and to beat Atletico you have to maintain constant intensity.
"I am concerned because the start of the season has not been good, like last year.
"Luckily it`s only the beginning. I am convinced that working together we will fix it, with the necessary calm and self-criticism."
Some of Real`s notoriously impatient fans made their displeasure clear during and after Saturday`s reverse, whistling captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas and calling for president Florentino Perez to step down.
Perez, the architect of Real`s policy of buying top players who can boost the club`s marketing income, has been widely blamed for the departure of Alonso and Di Maria, while Ancelotti has appeared less than pleased with the decision to let them leave for Bayern Munich and Manchester United respectively.
It remains to be seen whether Casillas will retain his starting place in the Champions League or whether Ancelotti will opt for new signing Keylor Navas, who starred for Costa Rica at the World Cup.
Basel, the Swiss champions, suffered a domestic league defeat of their own on Saturday when they were beaten 3-1 at Grasshoppers and will be hoping to reverse an atrocious record for Swiss sides at the Bernabeu.
Real have won all 10 of their European home games against Swiss opposition, scoring 42 goals and conceding two.
Basel will be without Marcelo Diaz on Tuesday as the Chile midfielder begins a three-match ban following his red card in the Europa League quarter-final second leg against Valencia last season.
Basel won their opening Champions League group game 2-1 at Chelsea last season but failed to qualify for the knockout round after finishing third behind the London club and Germany`s Schalke 04.
Liverpool host Bulgarian champions Ludogorets in Tuesday`s other Group B game.