Every word of Ancelotti’s press conference ahead of the Sevilla game
As Real Madrid finish preparation for Saturday’s game at Sevilla, Carlo Ancelotti looked ahead to the game - the penultimate one of the season.
The end of the season is nearing for Real Madrid with just two games left to conclude LaLiga. There is still a job to be done - securing second place in the table and with city rivals Atlético breathing down their necks, that means winning both of the remaining fixtures, starting with Saturday’s trip to the Sánchez Pizjuán. Ancelotti’s team are just one point ahead of Atleti and while tomorrow’s rivals Sevilla have nothing to play for, the Pizjuán has always been a difficult ground for Los Blancos and with the Europa League final against Mourinho’s Roma still to come, José Luis Mendilibar will be keen to keep momentum and confidence at optimum levels.
There were other topics that were brought up during Ancelotti’s press conference, such as his own continuity at the club and the recent storm involving Vinicius, who the Italian has decided to leave out of the squad for technical reasons.
How’s the team looking?
We want to finish the season well. It’s a difficult game. Our rivals have been doing well. We have a few players out - Karim, Vinicius and Asensio. We’ll try to do the best we possibly can. In terms of team spirit, we’re fine.
Spain is still without goal-line technology and we’ve been seeing problems, like the goal that VAR awarded in the Espanyol-Atlético game...
Technology is important. A lot of things have improved with VAR. Adding to the technology we already have would be a good thing. Other leagues already have it. We need to improve the use of technology, that seems quite clear.
Is it better for Vinicius not to travel tomorrow?
He won’t travel because he can’t play. There was a possibility that he might be included in the squad, but he’s still having trouble with his knee. He can’t play and that’s all there is to it. Hopefully he’ll be back for the last game.
The other day, you spoke about Rodrygo’s development and that he has room to improve. In what aspects of his game does he need to work on?
He needs continuity, to play regularly, to do things well. But simply, more continuity. He needs to play a more prominent role within the squad.
Is tomorrow’s game a good opportunity to give Hazard a run-out?
I’ll field a side that will try to win the game. It will be a very competitive line-up. We have a lot of very good players. It will be a hard-fought game, and we’ll need quality.
Which areas of the team need reinforcing for next season?
Whatever needs to be done, we’ll do. Don’t worry.
What did Real Madrid lack this season in LaLiga?
I could do a quick analysis of what happened in LaLiga. In all of the competitions, we competed right to the end, but after the Barça game we dropped points. That opened up a gap, they had a very good season and were very consistent. We struggled to recover our level after the World Cup. I’d like to stress that it wasn’t a problem in attack. We scored a lot of goals. We could have been a little more solid ta the back. If we are talking about statistics, we need to sign a defender. We don’t need a goalkeeper because we already have the best in the world. Sometimes, stats can be a bit misleading and they don’t always explain what happened.
In what way will these last two games serve for next season?
We’re not thinking about next season. We have to respect the Madrid shirt and the club’s values. The players need to be committed and professional. First of all for the shirt they are defending. And be professional - two very reasons to be motived.
Do you understand why Nacho is thinking about his future?
I do understand. The future is in his hands. He could stay, and continue to be a very loved and respected player. We all know what Nacho can bring to the team - what he has brought and what he can still bring. The club has spoken to him about renewing his contract and he thinking about what would be the best solution. The season will be over in a week’s time and everything will become clearer.
What do you ask of Hazard?
Everything I’ve needed to discuss with Hazard, I have said, but not here.
How do you feel about the team’s level in the league?
That depends on the kind of evaluation. Looking back over this league campaign makes me feel bad. But looking at the season as a whole, it’s been good. If we look back at the past two seasons, it’s been amazing. And if we look at the last four seasons, I would be more than happy with that - the Champions League, two semi-finals... I’ve won 10 trophies in four years. I’m very happy with that. And not just me, the club is too, I think.
Is the left-back position a worry for you?
We’ve had Mendy out with a serious injury and that caused us problems. First of all, we need to have confidence in him. He’s strong and he’s served us well in the past. He’s struggled a bit more this season. A young players came in and did well. The defence is okay.
What about Tchouameni? Now it looks like he’s the third choice behind Kroos and Camavinga...
The thing is, Tchoaumeni surprised everyone at the start of the season. He’s young and he’s joined Real Madrid. For a young player, that is not so simple. He had to step into the vacant role left by a Madrid legend, Casemiro. He did well in the first half of the campaign and after the World Cup his level dropped a bit. He’s not the third option in the pivot position. Out of the last nine league games, he’s been in the starting XI eight times. He still needs to adapt. His level dropped in the second half of the season but that’s normal for a young player at Real Madrid.
Would you like to sign a striker? Do you like Joselu?
We’re working on it. We’re working on strengthening the squad. I don’t think it’s right to mention names. I like Joselu, and several other strikers. I like Aspas, Morata... to mention Spanish players. It’s understandable to like strikers who score goals.
Will Hazard play tomorrow? Would it be easier for you if he didn’t continue at Madrid next season?
I’m surprised you can’t wait until tomorrow to find out. I’ve never given the line-up the day before a game. Hazard has a contract and that implies that he’ll stay. If he’s not happy, he needs to ask the club to find him an outlet.