Real Madrid pulled off yet another late, but dominant victory over Napoli on Wednesday night to remain unbeaten in Group C of the UEFA Champions League. The Merengues went behind early in the game, but a quick-fire double from Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham gave them the lead before half-time.
Napoli eventually equalised two minutes after the break and a hard-fought battle ensued. In the end, however, Los Blancos conjured two goals in the final ten minutes to record a 4-2 win at Santiago Bernabeu.
Speaking to the media after the thumping result, Carlo Ancelotti shared his thoughts on a plethora of topics including the game on the night, the team’s form and individuals who stood out. He began by breaking down the clash against Napoli and his men’s showing on the night.
“It has been a match against a rival with quality. At the level of playing with the ball we have done well, without haste, and managing the exit well from behind. We were able to do better in the defensive aspect. We were tidy, but not aggressive.”
“When it seemed that we didn’t have enough energy to win, we proved the opposite and that’s why we won the game. We are tired and we have had players with cramps. It’s normal because it’s been an open and very intense game,” he added on how his team came back from behind to win.
“There have been many transitions on the part of the two teams and we have ended up quite tired. We have time to recover until Saturday,” he elaborated on the aftermath of the clash.
Real Madrid were shoddy in defence in the opening spell of the game, but Ancelotti’s mid-game tweaks enabled a turnaround and improved stability. Speaking on the defence performance, the manager said,
“The derby showed that we conceded three goals with crosses and I think we were not able to control the penalty area with the two centre-backs.
“We are now quite well at the defensive level, but today we could be more forceful, especially when we had the low block. The two goals conceded are things that we must evaluate. We are satisfied, but there have been two situations that could be avoided. Despite this, we were lucky enough to score two more goals than the rival,” he added.
Jude Bellingham was the central figure when Real Madrid bettered Napoli in Naples earlier this year and was once again in the spotlight last night. The youngster scored once and provided one assist in yet another masterclass in the final third.
“Surprise every day and every game. Not only to us but to everyone. It is a gift for soccer. The teammates and the fans are delighted with him and the whole world of football, who sees a player with this potential and this positive image,” Ancelotti said about the Real Madrid starlet.
He also commented on the impact Bellingham had on the team and called him the ‘ideal player’ for the modern game.
“I hope he can continue like this. I don’t get into the issue of the money it has cost, but it has been a spectacular signing. We have to keep in mind that he is 20 years old. He is the ideal player for today’s soccer: of intensity and that covers the fast field.”
Staying on the topic of the English protege, Ancelotti emphasised that while special, Bellingham still had his areas to improve.
“He is serious, professional, and has adapted very well to the locker room. He works and understands himself very well with others. He has to improve his Spanish [laughs]. No one is perfect.”
Finally, the manager was asked if the new signing could be compared to Zinedine Zidane in terms of position and impact on the field, to which he said,
“It’s hard to compare him with Zidane. They are two different generations. Bellingham has presence in the box that Zidane did not have and Zidane had an individual quality that Bellingham does not have. Modern football wants players who are physically strong and able to cover a lot of field quickly.”
Real Madrid boast of a frightening marquee lineup when all players are fit, but football is about a whole lot more than names on paper. Ancelotti made it a point to praise the players on the bench who have an equally important role through cameos.
“Players have arrived who, without a doubt, have improved the quality of the squad such as Brahim, Joselu and Fran García. They are contributing something important to the team, we are living beautiful moments and we will do everything to keep this moment going.”
One such star who came off the bench and impressed was Nico Paz. The youngster came onto the field in the 65th minute and scored the winner for Real Madrid close to 20 minutes later.
“He provided what everyone expected. It’s a special night for him. He is a player for the future of Real Madrid because he has all the qualities that a player who is part of the Real Madrid squad has to have. In a moment of need, that’s what we need,” the manager said on the Castilla star.
He also showered praise on Rodrygo Goes who has been in red-hot form in recent games and once again found the back of the net against Napoli.
“I have seen many forwards with bad times and there you have to not lower confidence and the player does not lower his arms. He never lowered his arms and the day he scored the first goal he made the click that changed him. It was just a matter of time.”
Ancelotti then made a big announcement by revealing that none of the injured players would be back for Real Madrid’s next clash.
“We can’t get anyone back against Granada, but I think that against Betis it may be Modrić. We will prepare the match against Granada with these players.”
Finally, the Italian tactician gave his two cents on Joselu’s performance on the night which included a goal in just 30 minutes of play.
“He has done his job. Not just today. I’m not just asking you to score goals. He works very well and will continue to work. That he scores goals is good for him, but a player has to apologize when he doesn’t work and he has always worked very well.”
Source: Real Madrid website
Real Madrid future star Endrick set for his Santiago Bernabeu debut when Brazil face Spain
A while ago, Brazil manager Dorival Junior announced the squad list for the Selecao’s upcoming friendly encounters against England and Spain. And three Real Madrid players made the cut.
As one would expect, both Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo Goes were included on the squad list by the new manager of the Brazil national team.
Along with the pair, teenage wonderkid Endrick, who will be arriving at Real Madrid in the summer, was also named in the squad.
The 17-year-old striker was signed by Los Blancos in December 2022, but he had to stay back at his boyhood club Palmeiras as he cannot move to Europe until he turns 18, which will happen this summer.
LISTA DEFINIDA! 📄✅— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) March 1, 2024
Dorival Júnior anunciou hoje sua primeira convocação à frente da Seleção Brasileira! São 26 atletas que vão representar a Amarelinha nos amistosos contra Inglaterra e Espanha nos dias 23 e 26 de março, respectivamente.
Pra cima, Brasil! 💚💛 pic.twitter.com/zGGgm2kW4B
But even before he ends up at Real Madrid, Endrick is set to make his debut at the Santiago Bernabeu as Brazil play Spain at the Merengues’ home ground on March 26.
It will be a huge occasion for the teenage sensation and if he gets any minutes on the night from the manager, Endrick would very likely receive a special welcome at his future home.
Before that, though, the teenage sensation would come face-to-face with his future Real Madrid teammate, Jude Bellingham, with Brazil facing England at the Wembley Stadium on March 23.