Real Madrid beaks may not have been partaking of quite as many worms as La Liga early-birds Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, but the fact that they’ve yet to hit top gear makes bwin’s enhanced odds of 51/20 about them lifting the 2013/14 Spanish title chin-strokingly intriguing.
Real were eight points behind league-leaders Barcelona after eight games of the 2012/13 season.
Despite their laboured start to matters domestic, Los Blancos are far from as all-at-sea as they were at this stage of their final season under Jose Mourinho.
Having dropped just five points behind rivals that have yet to draw breath so far they have less slack to make up to get back on level pegging at the top of the table.
Ancelotti has employed three different formations in eight league games to date.
Having arrived at Santiago Bernabeu only in the summer it’s somewhat churlish of observers to suggest that Ancelotti’s Real side lack personality when the manager is still getting to grips with a new league and a new group of diversely talented footballers.
The Champions League thrashings his side have exacted upon Galatasaray and Copenhagen are both an ominous reminder of the choice ingredients that the Italian is cooking with and of how potent Real can be once he has a more thorough understanding of the Spanish League.
Gareth Bale and Asier Illarramendi have made three starts between them, whilst Xabi Alonso has yet to feature.
Purchased for an eye-watering combined fee of around €123m in the summer window, Bale and the Basque were clearly intended to be big cogs in the Madrid machine going forward yet due to ongoing match-fitness issues both men have yet to show anything like their best.
However, the absence of chief stoker Xabi Alonso from the Los Blancos engine room is perhaps a greater loss to the cause than either of the new boys.
The former Liverpool man has been at the heart of Real’s play for much of his time at the club and he was their only player to make it into La Liga’s top 10 pass-per-game completers in 2012/13.
That his teammates have been able to grind out victories without their central-midfield fulcrum – who should return to contention in mid November – is a testament to the will to win that runs through a side that have already notched five goals inside the last 10 minutes of their eight league games this season.