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Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti hits out at LaLiga, UEFA and FIFA in Celta Vigo pre-match press conference

Los Blancos will play the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Manchester City just three days after the Copa del Rey final.

Los Blancos will play the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Manchester City just three days after the Copa del Rey final.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media before Saturday’s LaLiga match against Celta Vigo at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The Italian revealed his admiration Gabri Veiga, who has been linked with a future move to the Spanish capital, predicted that the Champions League semi-final against Premier League club Manchester City would be an even contest and commented on how the signing of Erling Haaland had caused Pep Guardiola to change his style of play.

In addition, Ancelotti bemoaned a congested fixture list, confirmed that Karim Benzema would be fit to face Celta and discussed his rotation policy for the final few weeks of the season.

Every word Carlo Ancelotti said in his pre-match press conference before Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo

How difficult an opponent will Celta be?

We have a lot of respect for Celta, they’re in good form. They’re well organised and have individual quality in [Iago] Aspas and Veiga.

Are you surprised that Guardiola no longer seems to care so much about having possession of the ball?

Manchester City have changed a bit but they are still very strong and have more individual quality, with a striker [Haaland] who scores a lot of goals. We have to try to be better than them.

Are City favourites to win the tie?

I don’t know. It’s not something I’ve been thinking about. We have to realise that we are very close to the final and that they will be a very tough opponents in a very evenly-matched tie. Let’s see what happens.

If Atlético Madrid win at Camp Nou [on Sunday], will you have a chance of fighting for the league title?

Yes. But we have to do our thing: fight until the last game. We have to prove that we’re in good form in each match. That’s what our league games are for now. The team is playing well and we have to keep showing that in the league until the Copa del Rey final. Here, everyone just thinks about what’s in their own best interests: LaLiga, the [Spanish] Federation, UEFA, FIFA...The players aren’t important to them and that’s not right. Something has to change, there are too many games.

Are you happy with the praise Guardiola gave you?

Yes, Madrid is highly respected and that’s a good thing. And ever better coming from a coach like Guardiola.

Could the same team start the Copa del Rey final and the Champions League semi-final first leg against City?

Yes, I think so. We can change the way we recover after games. We have no problem playing three days later, we have done it many times. I have also heard that Real Madrid have had too many days off. But in four months, since 30 December, we have had eight days off, not taking into account the international break.

How is Benzema?

Karim is fine. He suffered a knock [against Chelsea] but has recovered very well. He’s available to play tomorrow. I took him off in London because when I think the contest is over, I want to look after players and give them a bit more rest.

Do you think it’s harder for Benzema not to play every minute of every game compared to others, such as Modric and Kroos?

I don’t think so. The important thing is to explain it and I have discussed it with him. I’ve told him that if I can rest him from time to time, I’ll do it. Especially if you have a little [fitness] problem. He was feeling good in Cádiz so I left him on for the full 90 minutes. He understands the situation perfectly.

Do you like Gabri Veiga?

Yes, I do. He’s a quality player, like Iago Aspas, who is doing very well.

Which version of City is better for Madrid to play against, last season’s team or this one which has less possession?

We are teams that are capable of playing differently. I don’t think they have completely changed their style, it’s just that they have such a good striker [Haaland] that their way of attacking has changed a bit compared to last year. City can play in transition or a possession game without any bother.

Are you looking at Atlético [two points behind Real Madrid] in the rearview mirror?

They are going to fight until the very end for second, which is important. They are on a great run and are playing very good football.

Have you ever had a player stand out in the Champions League as much as Rodrygo does?

Rodrygo is playing really well in the league too. Maybe he has stood out more in Champions League games because of his goals. In the league, he’s been a key team player.

Are you going to make changes tomorrow in view of still being involved in two other competitions?

At the moment, squad rotation depends solely on resting players that I think need it the most and to make sure that as many players as possible are in good physical condition. I have to give players game time to keep them physically fit for the run-in.

Are you already planning for next season?

No, next season’s plans are already in place. We’re not thinking about that at the moment.

What has been the key to the team’s improved defensive record?

We are more solid, it’s true. It depends a lot on the time of the season. At crucial moments, players are more focused in terms of defending. It was key for us last year and it could be key this year as well.