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Ancelotti praises Bellingham after Napoli 2-3 Real Madrid: “I’m surprised that he’s 20 years old”

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Photo by CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images

Federico Valverde’s late bullet helped Real Madrid to a special 3-2 win over Napoli in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night. The Merengues were under pressure for large parts of the game, but clinical finishing and a resilient defence helped them over the line.

The win takes them to first place in the standings in Group C and puts them in a prime position to finish as table toppers. 

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media after his team’s win and spoke on a plethora of topics including individual players and the result.

The manager first summed up the team’s performance at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium and how the story changed in the second half.

“We played a complete and serious match. We played very well in the first half and after the goal, we did very well between the lines and created opportunities.”

“The dynamics of the match changed after the penalty and Naples pressed higher. We suffer for 10 or 15 minutes and then we take control and score at the end,” he added on Napoli’s resurgence.

He then highlighted the tactics that he got right in the first half and insisted that three players troubled Napoli the most in the first 45 minutes.

“The success of the first half has been because the positions of Bellingham, Valverde, and Rodrygo created many doubts for Napoli in the game between the lines.

“The result is fair and I was expecting a Napoli with quality and dangerous players,” he concluded on the result.

Ancelotti then spoke on Jude Bellingham who continued his phenomenal run of form on Tuesday night. Speaking on the scorer of the second goal, he said,

“I’m surprised that he’s 20 years old because he seems to be 30 because of his character and personality. He is always focused on the game and knows what he has to do.”

“It’s rare in a 20-year-old boy. He has a lot of quality, physical strength, and ability. He surprises me like everyone else,” he added.

The combination of Vini Jr and Jude Bellingham was the root cause of most of Napoli’s problems last night. The manager revealed what made the young duo lethal.

“What we ask of Vini Jr. is to look for the position in which he is best. Sometimes he played on the outside and sometimes on the inside. Bellingham combined well with him and they both have a lot of creativity. Having the two positioned on our left wing undoubtedly creates a lot of danger.”

Despite reports stating that Luka Modric would start, Ancelotti opted to start the veteran on the bench. Nevertheless, the Croatian legend came on in the second half and had a decent impact.

“He has done what we expected him to do: put his experience at the service of the team. He has played 30 minutes at a high level and it means that he is motivated and can contribute. It’s what the coach asks of a player who doesn’t play. He has been fantastic in this regard,” the manager said about Modric’s playing time.

Yet another puzzling point from Real Madrid’s starting lineup was the positioning of Eduardo Camavinga at left-back for the second consecutive game. Ancelotti defended his decision of benching Ferland Mendy and Fran Garcia, saying,

“I didn’t want to change the team that did very well in Girona. It was an important game and we did it well. I put only Rodrygo, who had rested. Camavinga gives us a lot. In the first half, we have done well because of its characteristics.”

Finally, the Italian gaffer was asked to comment on Kepa Arrizabalaga who was solid, yet slightly shaky at times during the match.

“Each player has his own characteristics. He is formidable between the sticks and has made a stop in the first half, but he suffers in the air balls. No one is perfect,” he said, supporting his player.

Source: Real Madrid website

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Real Madrid News

Shocking Modric, Vinicius, Cristiano fact makes Real Madrid fans ‘feel old’

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Luka Modric is set to stay with Real Madrid for another season, meaning he will have played more seasons with Vinicius Jr. (7) than he did with Cristiano Ronaldo (6). 

Feeling old yet? We thought so too!

Modric joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2012 after four seasons with Tottenham Hotspur. On the other hand, Vinicius Jr. joined Real Madrid in 2018. 

By the end of the 2023/24 season, Modric and Vinicius will have spent six seasons together. This is the same number of seasons Modric played with Cristiano Ronaldo, who was at Madrid from 2009 to 2018. 

However, with Modric set to stay for another season, he will surpass that, playing more seasons with Vinicius than with Ronaldo, the club’s all-time top scorer.

A new contract for Modric

It is important to note that Real Madrid and Modric have reached an agreement in principle for his contract renewal for another year.

Luka Modric will stay at Real Madrid for another season. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

At 38, Modric’s contract was set to expire at the end of the current season. For a while, it seemed the Croatian star might leave Santiago Bernabeu this summer. 

However, things have changed recently, and Real Madrid have decided to offer him a new contract. 

Interestingly, Real Madrid have also offered a renewal to Toni Kroos with club president Florentino Perez personally involved in the negotiations.

Modric and Kroos will continue

Reports suggest that Modric has agreed to the new proposal, with an agreement in principle now in place. It is also expected that Kroos will accept his offer, meaning Real Madrid will keep both veteran players for another season.

The Croatian was reportedly willing to accept a pay cut and a reduced role in the team to continue playing for Real Madrid. This flexibility may have sped up the agreement process.

His willingness to adapt to a reduced role and accept a pay cut has likely influenced the club’s decision to renew his contract for one more year. 

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