The Spanish championship locomotive seems to have more or less left the platform without Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid on board. With just eight rounds of play remaining, the defending Spanish champions are a whopping 11 points behind eternal rivals FC Barcelona.
On Tuesday night, Ancelotti's side suffered their sixth defeat in the LaLiga this season when they conceded four goals away to Girona, all scored by Argentinian Taty Castellanos. Six defeats is already the most since the disappointing 2018-19 season, when they finished third.
And although Barca also dropped points on Wednesday night, losing away to Rayo Vallecano, the gap remains at the aforementioned 11 points, a gap that will be virtually impossible to close in just eight rounds for Ancelotti and his men.
For Ancelotti, however, this is nothing new. Struggling to perform in the league is a familiar phenomenon for the Italian star coach, who has never successfully defended a league title in his career.
Ancelotti impressed in his first season with a second-place finish, but in the following season he finished a disappointing sixth. Nevertheless, the performances eventually led to a move to Juventus, but again Ancelotti had to settle for two second-place finishes.
Finally, the first league title came in 2004, Ancelotti's second season at AC Milan. But it was the first as well as the last title in Milan. The following season, Ancelotti failed to defend his Scudetto. And indeed, this has been the case throughout his career.
In total, Ancelotti has won one of the five major European leagues five times. But never once has the Italian managed to defend his title. Not at Milan, not at Chelsea, not at Paris Saint-Germain, where, to be fair, he didn't get the chance, and not at Bayern Munich, where he was sacked in his second season.
Now history seems to be repeating itself. After the great last season, where Real Madrid won both La Liga and the Champions League, the title defence in LaLiga already seems to have gone down the drain with the gap to Barcelona in mind.
Ancelotti's problems defending league titles are in stark contrast to coaches like Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Massimiliano Allegri and Jose Mourinho, who have all successfully defended league titles throughout their careers.
On the other hand, Ancelotti still has the opportunity to triumph in the Champions League, where he is already the only coach in history to win it four times, two won with Milan, two won by Real Madrid. In the semi-finals, Real Madrid will face Manchester City, just as they did last season.