COPA DEL REY
Real Madrid: Ceballos vents frustration at Ancelotti over late substitution
Pitchside images captured by 'Gol' showed a heated exchange between Ceballos and coach before the player entered the field on 85 minutes against Alcoyano.
Carlo Ancelotti isn't having the best of luck in his attempts to keep everyone in his squad happy. Following the incident with Isco in Granada at the end of November, in which the player refused to warm-up and had words with Davide Ancelotti, the coach had more resentment to deal with in Alcoy last night.
Gol's pitchside cameras captured the moment when Dani Ceballos was seen to have a heated exchange with his coach moments before he entered the field at the end of Real Madrid's Copa del Rey tie against Alcoyano at El Collao. Ceballos replaced Rodrygo on 85 minutes as part of a double substitution with the team 1-3 up on the scorebaord. It was the midfielder's first appearance for Real Madrid since the Week 35 LaLiga defeat to Rayo in April 2019. At the end of that season he joined Arsenal on loan and returned to Madrid last summer.
The sequence shows an angry Ceballos mouthing something to Ancelotti with the coach trying to placate him. The player is then seen turning away making a dismissive gesture with his hands. The Copa tie in Alcoy was supposed to be a posotve moment for Ceballos who has not played competitively since suffering an ankle injury while on duty with Spain at the Tokyo Olympics in July. He had been sidelined for five months and only returned to full training at the start of December.
He has been available for the past month but not match fit. Ancelotti has made a point of saying that there will be opportunities for every player in his squad - especially now that the fixtures calendar is starting to fill up with Madrid entering the Copa and a decisive Champions League clash with PSG looming. The coach explained why Andriy Lunin would start against Alcoyano instead of Courtois - apart from Ceballos, the Ukranian keeper is the only member of the first team squad not to have played a single minute since the season started. Another fronge player, Mariano started Wednesday's Cup tie but limped off at the start of the second half with a suspected hamstring injury.
So the spat with Ceballos is just what Ancelotti didn't want when he is going to needs the help of all of his second string players. It's not the first time that the midfielder has expressed his frustration at a lack of playing time - he famously fell out with Zidane, presumably for the same reason and was ostracised as a result. It is not going to be easy for the 25-year-old who is one of several players fighting to get more opportunities in the position which Madrid have probably better covered than anywhere else. He will be out of contract in June 2023 and will discuss his future with at the club at the end of the season.