Ancelotti: “Other clubs would love to be in Real Madrid’s position...”
Carlo Ancelotti faced reporters ahead of the Betis game, Real Madrid’s final league game of the season and Bale’s farewell.
Carlo Ancelotti previewed Saturday’s meeting with Betis, Real Madrid’s final league game of the season, in the company of the press. The Italian coach also spoke about Gareth Bale’s send-off, and says that everyone recognises what the Welsh forward has done for Real Madrid. He was less inclined to speak about Kylian Mbappé but believes that the French striker, who is expected to join as a free agent, won’t be a distraction in the days leading up to the Champions League final. Ancelotti also surprised by admitting that he has a few doubts as to who he will line up against Liverpool in Paris next weekend.
How is the general mood?
Good. We want to see the season out in front of our fans and bring to an end a positive campaign in which we’ve done well. Everything in LaLiga turned out well for us since the first game. The objective is to maintain a good dynamic and intensity in tomorrow’s game to help us going into next week’s final.
Has Bale trained? Will he play?
Bale trained today. He’s still not at 100% and we haven’t drawn up the squad yet. Tomorrow, we’ll see if he’s on the bench. I have to leave two players in the stands tomorrow.
Will tomorrow’s starting XI be the same team that plays the final or will you make minor changes?
I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about giving playing time to those who need more minutes. Tomorrow Modric, Marcelo will return... We only have Alaba, who will start full training with the squad from Monday.
Of the players who will be leaving this summer - Marcelo, Isco and Bale, have any spoken to you about playing tomorrow?
We haven’t spoken about that with the players, because I think all of them are focused on the 28th. As I say, Marcelo and Isco are back and almost the whole squad is ready. I need to think about which players need more playing time to be ready for the final.
In the past, you have admitted that you get afraid before games. Is that still the case?
Fear comes with worry. That usually comes before important games. But before worry sets in, I really enjoy the build-up. I’m very happy to be in a position to prepare for a game like this and it’s normal to be a little worried ahead of such a big match.
You’ve have three weeks to think while Liverpool have been busy in the Premier League title race. Would you rather be in your position to Liverpool’s?
Liverpool have had more difficulties than us, but we will have the same amount of time to prepare for the game. We’ve enjoyed winning LaLiga, like they have winning the FA Cup. I don’t think that will affect the team in the final. Simply because because we are not thinking about it yet. We’ll start thinking about it on Monday, but everything is already prepared.
Would you like to see Bale given a happy send-off?
Everyone knows that his contract is up, if he plays tomorrow or not isn’t that important. What’s important is that he has been part of the history of this club. I think he will remain in the minds of all Real Madrid fans. He was important for us winning La Décima, in Kiev, in the Copa del Rey... He is a player who has written key pages in this club’s history and I think everyone recognises that, regardless of whether he plays tomorrow. It doesn’t really matter.
Do you get asked about Mbappé when you are out and about on the street?
No one asks me anything because I don’t go out onto the street. I spend most of my time in Valdebebas, in my car or at home. Sometimes I like to eat out at some of the nice restaurants Madrid has, but nobody asks me about that. They all ask me to win the final. That’s all. All of the fans are focused on the Champions League final.
What’s more important - winning the Champions League or signing Mbappé for the next 12 years?
Today, Madrid fans are excited about the Champions League final and nothing else. We’re all thinking about the same thing: winning No.14.
Have you decided on your starting XI for Paris?
No, I don’t have any doubts. It’s quite clear. My only doubt is who will be more important, the players who start the game or those who finish it.