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Ancelotti hails Real Madrid midfielder after Chelsea win: “Best player on the pitch”



Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid took down Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final fixture to take a two-goal lead heading into next week’s second leg. Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio found their names on the scoresheet, but it is safe to say that every player in white had their own critical contributions to the result.

It was no competition for most parts of the game as the London-based side appeared clueless in the final third and barely created any chances to show for their possession. Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media after the result and spoke about the game review and specific players like Dani Carvajal and Fede Valverde. Here are the snippets from his post-match press conference.

The Italian first summed up the game that played out on Wednesday night and the manner in which his team managed the game on the field. He also gave a manager’s perspective on what to expect in the second leg.

“We played a very well-rounded game. We suffered somewhat at the beginning but the objective was to get ahead and that’s what we did. We’ll have to suffer there because Chelsea have a very good team, with very good players, and we have another 90 minutes to endure. We are satisfied with the result and the performance.”

Many felt that Real Madrid should have pushed for a superior goal difference on the night to kill off the game in the first leg, as they did in Anfield. The need to do so was felt more because Chelsea played the last half hour a man down. However, Ancelotti explained why his side failed to do so.

“You might think we could have pressed more against 10, but when it was eleven against eleven we fought a lot and in the end, I think we lacked energy and clarity. We have to come away satisfied but there are another 90 minutes to go.

“We have to repeat today’s game at Stamford Bridge because we know Chelsea will give it their best shot next week.”

Speaking about the game at Stamford Bridge next week, the Italian tactician highlighted the need to stay grounded and turn on a fresh leaf next week.

“The team looked very good and I’m very happy. I’m very pleased, but we have to be calm and collected because there are 90 minutes left to play and anything can happen in football. We have to manage our lead there and try to repeat the game we played today.”

Ancelotti repeated his Clasico lineup from last week, playing both Rodrygo and Federico Valverde on the night, thereby deploying Toni Kroos as the pivot. He explained the rationale behind his changes.

“I always look for the best for the team. There are games where we can create chances with three strikers and I think that Kroos helps a lot as a playmaker spreading the ball out wide and keeping possession. We might suffer more defensively, but if there is a collective commitment we don’t suffer. It worked out well.”

Speaking specifically about Valverde, the coach expressed his admiration for the Uruguayan’s performance and the importance of his silent, yet vital contributions.

“He was the best player on the pitch. He brought so much energy and he was very aware of his positioning. He managed the defensive side of things with Kroos really well and was brilliant at recovering the ball after the opening 10 minutes when we made a few slight adjustments.”

Dani Carvajal has been under criticism for a large part of the season for his reduced output in the final third. Last night, he provided the pre-assist that set up Karim Benzema’s opener with a stunning lobbed pass. He praised the Spaniard saying,

“He never lets you down in the big games and much of the credit for the pressure we tried to employ high up came through him down the right-hand side on Chilwell.”

The defensive line against Chelsea ensured a vital clean sheet and kept the Blues at bay. They did not give the visitors a sniff at goal for most parts of the game, and Ancelotti had only words of praise for all four players.

“The guys at the back managed the space superbly. Carvajal and Camavinga pushed up and the centre-backs were left up against the two forwards, which they did really well. We’re looking good defensively and Camavinga is doing brilliantly in that position due to Mendy’s injury.”

Finally, the manager was asked the inevitable question of the night: Rodrygo or Marco Asensio. The young Brazilian started the game and gave a promising display in the final third with his creativity and passing but Asensio came on and scored with one of his first touches. Ancelotti highlighted the difference between the two stars saying,

“Rodrygo takes more risks because he’s more direct and he takes defenders on more often. Marco moves really nicely in the spaces between the lines and he has an unbelievable shot on him.”

“I really appreciate him because he tends to score every game he plays, whether he plays from the start or comes off the bench. He’s decisive in any squad because he can change the game with his goals and assists.”

Source: Real Madrid website

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid winger has two future destinations on table for next season



Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid set out on a mission to change the minds of Dani Ceballos, Marco Asensio and Nacho Fernandez earlier this week. After all, all three players were contemplating a departure from the club for a gross lack of minutes.

Los Blancos’ latest approach seems to have impacted Ceballos’ position in a positive fashion. However, Fabrizio Romano reveals that it has not changed Marco Asensio’s mind.

According to the Italian journalist, the Spaniard will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season as a free agent.

Of the numerous options on his table, he sees Aston Villa and PSG to be the best bets. In fact, Villa have already submitted their opening bid for the player as revealed by Fabrizio Romano once again.

After a dramatic final day of action in the Premier League, Aston Villa finished in the European spots and will participate in the UEFA Conference League next season. While a move to the English club would be a steep step down, it will see Asensio receive regular playing time.

Paris-Saint Germain, on that front, appears the more probable destination. The French club are close to losing both Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr ahead of the new season, and Asensio would thus fit in as a starting quality winger. Moreover, they offer Champions League football.

The Spaniard’s role at Real Madrid this season has not been minor by any means considering his contributions. In 30 La Liga appearances, the 27-year-old has scored nine goals and provided six assists in addition to creating nine big chances and averaging 1.4 key passes per game.

However, that does not satisfy the winger who wishes to be a starter week in and week out. His departure in June appears to be now written in stone, and the club should feel hard done to not make a penny of his move.

Many in Los Blancos’ administration see Brahim Diaz as a direct replacement for the Spanish international if he leaves. Needless to say, the AC Milan star’s future will closely depend on Asensio’s situation.

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