What did Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti say in his Real Betis pre-match press conference?
Madrid lost to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and could be 10 points behind the Catalans in LaLiga before facing Betis.
The games keep coming thick and fast for Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti. Three days after their Copa del Rey defeat to arch-rivals Barcelona, they travel to Seville to take on Real Betis on Sunday (kick-off at 3:00 p.m ET), by which time they will find themselves 10 points adrift at the top of LaLiga if Barça beat Valencia earlier that day (kick-off at 10:15 a.m. ET). Ancelotti spoke to the press before the clash at Estadio Benito Villamarín and was asked about him team’s cup disappointment, the form of Karim Benzema and Luka Modric and different tactical issues.
You’ve now had two games a week for nine weeks. How have you managed such a tough schedule?
“I think the team looks good, we’re in good shape and we’ve got players coming back. This Sunday’s game will be difficult; Betis are a great team who play attractive football. They play very well. There’s no margin for error: we’ll give our all”.
Has Modric earned a new deal?
“That is not a problem, Modric will do what he has to do. He has spoken to the club and he will make the right decision. It’s not a problem for him, nor for Real Madrid, nor for me”.
You said you had to repeat Thursday’s performance at Camp Nou to overturn the first-leg deficit (in the Copa del Rey semi-final against Barcelona). Have you watched the match back? What concerns you about what you saw?
“Yes, I have seen it. And I repeat what I said. We played good game. There’s room for improvement in some areas, but we played well”.
In the Clásico, more than one in two fouls (seven of 13) were on Vinicius. He blew up very early on, risking getting a red card in the 24th minute. Are you worried that he’s running out of steam? That he’s tired and starting to lash out for little things.
“It’s not something that worries me, not at all. The important thing here is that Vinicius doesn’t lose his motivation for playing. In the last few games, opponents have defended very well against him. It’s been tough for him”.
How do you assess Benzema’s recent performances? Has he lost his spark?
“It’s not possible to score in every game! Karim doesn’t worry me, because I think he’s playing well, he’s in good physical condition; certainly better than in the first part of the season. We’re doing very well in terms of attacking, we’ve scored the most goals in LaLiga. He’s missed a few at certain moments, but that’s it. We don’t have any ‘attacking problems’”.
What do you think of Xavi saying that Madrid are still favourites?
“We aren’t thinking about that. The reality is that we are at a disadvantage, that’s it”.
There are people who say that Modric and Kroos slow down the game too much nowadays.
“I don’t think so. Of course they don’t. They are players who think about what they are going to do before receiving the ball; they have that quality. They don’t run, they make the ball run. Because the ball... doesn’t sweat”.
Have you ever worked with referee reports?
“No, because I don’t need them. I know the referees and I inform myself. I don’t need any help with this”.
It seems that Camavinga is adapting better than Tchouaméni...
“Let’s not forget that Tchouaméni surprised us in the first part of the season precisely because he adapted so quickly. It’s true that after the World Cup his form dropped off a bit, but he’s going to get it back. I don’t have the slightest doubt”.
How has Ceballos been doing?
“He’s fine, he’s been doing well. He’s been able to play in the last few games and he’ll ready again when it’s his turn to play”.
Do Real Madrid struggle to play against a low block?
“It’s true that we find it a bit tough, because I don’t want a tall striker. I want Benzema, who helps us to improve our attacking play... and the statistics are there: with him, we have scored the most goals in LaLiga. Of course, we play well on the counterattack and playing against low blocks is more difficult. Rodrygo can help us there, with his quality in tight spaces. I don’t want to play with a tall centre-forward; that would force us to put crosses into the box and that’s not our style”.
Do you think Álvaro Rodríguez is ready to be a starter?
“He has the quality to be more than just an impact player. He’s young, he’s improving and training well”.
Is Militão the best centre-back in the world?
“Yes, he is”.
Could Álvaro Rodriguez and Benzema play together?
“Yes, in a 4-4-2. Benzema is used to playing off the front, not always as the only striker. It’s an option, of course”.
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