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Ancelotti: “Provocation is not fair play, Vinicius has to improve”

The Italian spoke to the press in the build-up to Madrid’s final match before the World Cup.

Joe Brennan
MADRID 09/11/2022.- El entrenador del Real Madrid, el italiano Carlo Ancelotti, ofrece en una rueda de prensa en la Ciudad deportiva de Valdebebas en Madrid este miércoles. EFE/ Rodrigo Jiménez
Rodrigo JiménezEFE

I’m sure he’s a little relieved the questions will finally stop being the same. Carlo Ancelotti sat down with the press for the last time before the season stops for the World Cup. Real Madrid have to bounce back from defeat at Rayo on Monday, and especially given that FC Barcelona got past a resilient Osasuna side last night.

Team news

We already know that Benzema and Rüdiger are not available, given they did not train with the team this morning. The club are keen to stress that the Ballon d’Or winner isn’t injured, but he just doesn’t have good feelings regarding his fitness. Rüdiger, on the other hand, has a genuinely hip injury and will not play. Ancelotti wasn’t angry, simply saying that the Frenchman “hasn’t been able to help the team, but he tried. He hasn’t been able to return with the little niggle he’s got.” When probed as to whether this injury could put Benzema’s World Cup at risk, he calmed the tensions: “No. It’s not important, its just small.”

Vinicius Junior’s attitude

Much has been made of Vinicius Junior and his apparent tendency to taunt the opposition during games. It has led many to think that a sense of arrogance has overtaken him. But, as usual, Papa Carlo was there to relax everyone, but not without making his feelings clear about how Vinicius is treated by other players. “It gets seen as though Vinicius is provocative but he’s also the one who receives the most fouls, the most hits, the most pushes”, he said. “The reality is different and there’s no need to show him a lack of respect either as a footballer or as a person. I’m not just talking about the top players but all of them. Fair Play is much more common in other countries, it might perhaps be the most important thing in football.”

After a long pause and a stare into nothingness that was accompanied by an increcdibly raised left eyebrow, Carlo awoke from his daze and proclaimed “Here [Vinicius] has to improve. Provoking is not fair play, you go onto the pitch to play football, not to provoke. But obviously he can improve because he’s young and he’s going to do so. He loves football and plays the best he can. Provocation isn’t something he does regularly, the players who do it are in the wrong and it’s difficult to correct because they don’t see it like that.”

Switching up Madrid’s winning formula

The boss was questioned about if he thought the impact of so many games had led him to consider swapping players in the starting eleven: “I think [rotations] are important but you have to look at the dynamic of the team and to take out players like Valverde or Rodrygo - who score in every game - is a bit strange. I don’t think about keeping the international players on the bench [despite the World Cup] because I know that they’re going to give everything while they’re here.”

Ancelotti was finally quizzed on whether the World Cup had anything to do with Real Madrid’s slow end to the season: “The World Cup is there but I haven’t seen anyone, in this month leading up to it, training without full commitment; the tackles are even more frequent in the small-sided games and no player has told me anything like that in meetings. The situation is simple: we’re not in the best form but the World Cup was there a month ago and we were playing well then.”

“Despite the fact that end of the year has not been great and has made us angry, plus the defeat against Leipzig affected us, the rest of the year has been amazing”, he explained. “We achieved the goal of winning the Champions League and that’s meant a few important players have missed a few games, like Benzema or Courtois. But I’m not here to look for excuses.

Real Madrid play Cádiz tomorrow at the Santiago Bernabéu before the league stops for the Qatar World Cup.


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