Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will go into Wednesday?s Champions League quarter-final clash with Atletico knowing his future at the Santiago Bernabeu is on the line.
Ancelotti led Madrid to four titles in 2014 as the club claimed the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, the Uefa Super Cup and the Club World Cup, but 2015 has been more difficult for the Italian. Barcelona now lead La Liga and European elimination is a distinct possibility after seven games without a win against Atleti.
The last of those came in a goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon last Tuesday as Madrid failed to make their pressure count in the teams? first-leg encounter in the last eight of the Champions League.
The 55-year-old had a fully-fit squad at his disposal for that game, but has lost Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric to injury ahead of the second match, while Marcelo is suspended for the Bernabeu return.
Despite those difficulties, Goal understands Madrid will look for a new coach this summer if the club are knocked out by Atletico, regardless of what happens in the last six rounds of La Liga.
Madrid trail Barca by two points in the Primera Division, but face tough fixtures against Sevilla away from home, Valencia at the Bernabeu and Celta Vigo in Galicia, while Barca?s run-in looks less complicated aside from a derby date at Espanyol this weekend.
Club president Florentino Perez came out last month to deny Ancelotti would be sacked if Madrid lost the Clasico clash at Barcelona (which they later did), but refused to ratify the Italian beyond the summer and, like last season, success against Atletico in the Champions League now looks like being decisive.
?We are missing some important players but it?s impossible for us to be more motivated than we are. We have to live with injuries. We did it in the past and it will not hurt our confidence,? Ancelotti said at Tuesday?s pre-match press conference.
And he added: ?We have the best squad in the world.?
That is an opinion shared by the club?s board and if Real fall short against Atletico again, the Italian knows there will be no excuses. The writing will be on the wall.