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Ancelotti talks Bellingham, Modric, Camavinga, Mendy, Rodrygo, Joselu ahead of Napoli vs Real Madrid

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

As Real Madrid get set to take on Napoli in their second Group C encounter of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League tomorrow, manager Carlo Ancelotti attended his customary press conference today.

The Merengues head into the game on the back of two solid wins against Las Palmas and Girona and will be aiming to build on that winning momentum.

It will be a special occasion for Ancelotti as he not only returns to his homeland but also takes on one of his former employers.

On facing Napoli on Tuesday and how Real Madrid plan on approaching the game, the Italian tactician said:

“We are playing against one of the best teams in Italy. It’s going to be a competitive and evenly-matched game. We are playing against a team that is at a very high level, has talented individuals, and with an atmosphere that will push them on. We have to repeat the good things we did in Girona.”

Ancelotti was inevitably asked about Real Madrid’s star man Jude Bellingham, who has made an exceptional start to life at the Spanish capital club. On being quizzed if the 20-year-old was the best player in the world at the moment, the manager replied:

“He has adapted very well. He is showing all the qualities he has. For me, we have the best team in the world, including everyone. The fact that Bellingham is playing for us makes us happy.”

On the topic of Luka Modric and his reduced role in the team this season, Ancelotti insisted that he still considers the Croatian an important player but there is a lot of competition, saying:

“It’s quite surprising to me that Modric doesn’t have the same role as in the past. He played the first Champions League game and the derby. He didn’t play simply because the competition is very high and it can happen that someone is left on the bench.

“We don’t have any problems. I have great respect for him as a player and as a person, but sometimes I have to make decisions that cost a lot, for everyone, and also for me.”

When asked if this had been discussed with Modric when he signed a new contract in the summer, Ancelotti appeared defensive in his response as he said:

“It’s just a technical decision that has happened in these two games and that can change tomorrow or in the next games. One day it could be Modric, another Kroos, another Tchouameni, another Camavinga.

“In every game, there is someone who is left on the bench and you ask me. There are seven players for four positions. Also, when I put five players in, you’ll give me stick, so it’s better to stick with four.”

Camavinga at left-back again? (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

The manager had made some interesting selections in the past few matches, such as starting Eduardo Camavinga at left-back vs Girona and preferring Joselu ahead of Rodrygo.

Both players made an impact and as such Ancelotti was asked if he planned to stick with them or if there would be changes against Napoli, to which he said:

“Obviously there are questions for this game, much more for you than for me. For me it’s all pretty clear. Mendy is recovered, he was a bit tired, he’s ready to play. Then we have to decide the eleven.

“For us, in every match, the most important thing is to defend well, because if you keep a clean sheet, you’re more likely to win than to lose.”

When further probed if he was clear about who among Joselu or Rodrygo will start, Ancelotti said: “Yes, it’s clear. Do you want to know? I’m not telling you that.”

On what it means for him to face Napoli as the manager of Real Madrid, the manager said: “Coming back is a return to the past. I experienced positive moments in a wonderful city. Tomorrow’s match will be the most difficult for us in the group stage. The Real Madrid shirt is heavy. It’s an institution.”

On how things ended for him at Napoli and his relationship with club president Aurelien De Laurentiis, Ancelotti remarked: “I have a very good relationship with everyone. What I’ve always said: when the relationship between a club and a coach doesn’t have the right feeling, it’s better to stop.

“And I think it was the right decision, for Napoli and for me too because two years later I returned to the best club in the world.”

Early in the season, Ancelotti had insisted that he was not going to deploy Eduardo Camavinga at left-back anymore but did so against Girona. When asked if it will be a regular occurrence going forward, the Real Madrid boss said:

“It is an option. The good thing about Camavinga is that he is a complete player who can play in many positions on the pitch. I think he is convinced because if you ask him if he wants to play at left-back or on the bench, he’ll say left-back.”

Further reiterating his position on the matter, he stated: “No, not on a regular basis, absolutely not. We have two left-backs who give us confidence. Fran has done very well in the last few games and Mendy is coming back from injury. This position is very well covered, Camavinga included.”

Ancelotti also reserved some praise for Napoli’s dangerous attacking duo of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, as he said:

“They are very good forwards. They have shown their quality and their high level, with different characteristics. They are very talented. Kvara is very good one-on-one and Osimhen is very powerful.”

Ancelotti was also asked about Real Madrid captain Nacho Fernandez, who was sent off in the last game against Girona for a dangerous challenge on Portu.

“He has said what he has said and he has spoken to Portu. He has apologised. He doesn’t have to do more. As I said, it was a lack of lucidity. That’s the end of it,” the manager said.

Source: AS

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Real Madrid News

Spain midfielder credits Real Madrid assistant manager for career success

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Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Spain’s European Championship campaign so far has been one filled with revelations. From young Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams on the wings to the ever-so-solid midfield, La Roja have impressed across the park and have taken the tournament by storm.

One such player who has played a critical role for the team despite not being in many pundits’ squad for the tournament is Fabian Ruiz. The PSG midfielder has been sensational for Luis de la Fuente’s men so far, scoring once and providing one assist in two games.

Despite not having any direct links with Real Madrid, the Spanish midfielder interestingly credits Davide Ancelotti for his success and AS brings the story.

A chapter in Naples

Fabian Ruiz may have never played for Los Blancos in his career so far, but he crossed paths with the Ancelottis in Naples a few years ago.

Ruiz signed for the Italian club from Real Betis in 2018 for a fee of €30 million. At the time, he was not known widely and was just seen as another routine Spanish midfielder aspiring to make it big.

As revealed by the player in a recent interview, however, it was Carlo Ancelotti’s son and Real Madrid assistant manager Davide Ancelotti who first saw the spark in him.

“Meeting him was a very important step in my career. From the beginning, he backed me, and it was not easy to pay what Napoli paid for me, a player who had not played much in La Liga with Betis.”

“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. I have a very good relationship and friendship with him,” he added.

Fabian Ruiz credits Davide Ancelotti for his success. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

A special eye

Ruiz’s comments on Davide Ancelotti only make it clearer as to why Carlo Ancelotti holds his son’s advice in high regard. It is, after all, a testament to the tactician’s keen eye for special talent.

As revealed earlier this year, it was the manager’s son who suggested Joselu’s substitution against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semifinals when the team was on the brink of elimination.

What happened next was history as the veteran scored twice within minutes to turn the game around and send the Bavarians crashing out.

Davide has been rumoured to be interested in walking his own path soon as a specialist coach, but as it stands, will continue working under his father for at least one more year at Real Madrid.

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