Every word Carlo Ancelotti said after Real Madrid’s Champions League win over Liverpool
Karim Benzema scored the only goal as Real Madrid defeated Liverpool to book their place in the last eight of the Champions League.
Real Madrid are safely through to the quarter-finals of the 2022-23 Champions League after Wednesday’s narrow home victory in the second leg of their round of 16 tie against Liverpool. French striker Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the game with 12 minutes to go at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, securing a 6-2 aggregate victory for the reigning European champions, who join the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the hat for the last eight.
Ancelotti’s flash interview: “It was the match we wanted”
Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti gave his thoughts on his team’s victory over the Reds to Spanish broadcaster Movistar Liga de Campeones immediately after the game.
General thoughts on the game: “I think we played well and managed the game well. We didn’t defend with a low block and tried to keep the ball well. We had opportunities and were solid at the back. It was the match we wanted.”
Approach in the first half: “Our high pressing made it difficult for them. Modric and Kroos handle these types of matches very well. They bring the ball out from the back very well.”
Late substitutions: “The team was doing well, so it wasn’t just about making changes for the sake of it. I made the changes to break up the game at the end. We played well throughout, we were always focused, we didn’t take risks...we’re happy.”
Any stand-out performers? “I liked how the whole team played. Psychologically, it was a tricky game. We had a three-goal lead and didn’t take our foot off the gas.”
You’ll Never Walk Alone being played after full-time at the Bernabéu: “I didn’t know it was going to happen, but it’s very good that it did. Liverpool is a noble club, they paid tribute to (former Real Madrid player) Amancio (who died in February) in the first leg. It was a very nice gesture from them.”
What did you talk about with Klopp? “We agreed it wasn’t a handball at the end. Before the match, we talked about yesterday’s penalty (given to Manchester City for handball against RB Leipzig). The penalty given against Leipzig was crazy. That’s not football, giving a penalty like that in the Champions League...”.
On the prospect of facing former club Milan in the quarter-finals: “I want Milan in the final, not in the quarter-finals.”
Ancelotti post-match press conference: “Benzema will be fine to face Barcelona”
A few minutes later, the Italian took part in an official post-match press conference, where he expanded on a number of things he had been asked about in the immediate aftermath of the victory.
Do you have any preferences for the quarter-finals?: “It was a good game. It was a complete performance. It could have been a potential banana skin, but we started the game well, with a clear idea of how we wanted to play. We were very professional and we finished the game off well. I have no preferences. The important thing for us is to win. I’m happy that there are three Italian teams in the last eight, it’s a very positive sign for the country. It’s good.”
How is Benzema?: “It seems like nothing serious. He was a bit sore but I think he’ll recover without any problems in time for Sunday’s game (away to Barcelona).”
Does this Real Madrid team resemble the Milan side you played for in some ways?: “They are different teams. Each team has its characteristics, its history... We are a modern team, because you need to show quality, commitment, energy and experience in modern-day soccer. Today, Modric and Kroos did really well in the sense that the team could have been a little afraid to take the ball because of the pressure Liverpool were going to put on us, but they did it very well. The way we played out from the back really helped us to control things.”
How do you assess Camavinga’s development?: “He’s in very good form at the moment. He’s playing at a high level just now and is taking advantage of it. He feels comfortable alongside Kroos and Modric. He drops back to get possession of the ball and has the quality to play forward.”
Why did you wait until it was 1-0 to make substitutions?: “I waited because the team was doing well, I didn’t want to change it. I only used the changes to break up the game to help us win.”
How difficult is it for you to tell Kroos that he’s going to start a game as a substitute?: “He didn’t start in the first leg. I’ll have to talk to the doctor to see if the gastroenteritis comes back [laughter].”
Will you have a selection headache in central defence when Alaba returns?: “The problem we have is when I have to play players out of position. We have been really good at the back. Nacho’s performance today was one of a top-class left-back. It’s not easy to play against Salah and he did it very well.”
Is Vinicius the best player in the world?: “For me, yes. He didn’t score today, but he was decisive. He set up the goal and every time he took on his opponent, he created danger.”
Are Madrid more fancied to win the Champions League than last season?: “Collectively, we have much more confidence because of what happened last year. You could see that in this tie. We did really well in both games against a strong team. Only showing this confidence will allow us to reach the final. There are a few surprising names in the quarter-finals, who nobody expected to be there. It’s always really difficult to win the Champions League. We have to fight until the end.”
What is the role of a coach when it comes to finding the right blend of youth and experience?: “The players create the atmosphere. The humility of the veteran players, who don’t have any ego, is key, as was the patience of the younger players last summer. Kroos and Modric don’t play because of the career they have had, they play because they deserve to.”
Do the chants for Nacho and Ceballos to stay encourage you to give them more game time?: “I’d like to give game time to everyone. I have to look at what the players do, their attitude, if they don’t play much... Ceballos and Nacho are incredibly good at making the most of the game time I give them.”