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Ancelotti talks Brahim, Lunin, Vinicius, Tchouameni after RB Leipzig 0-1 Real Madrid

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Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Real Madrid took a one-goal advantage from the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash against RB Leipzig last night. The game was well-balanced for most parts, but a Brahim Diaz screamer gave Los Blancos the slight edge heading into the second leg in Spain.

With this, Real Madrid’s undefeated run in the Champions League extends to seven games, of which notably, Los Blancos have drawn none. Moreover, with La Liga almost in the bag, they become one of the favourites in the European competition.

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the press after his team’s narrow win in the UEFA Champions League and began by giving full credit for the same to his team with undying attitude and commitment.

“I have a squad with a fantastic attitude, immense commitment and quality. I was very impressed with how we defended against a team that will always make life hard for you at home. We could have scored more but we could have conceded too.”

“It’s a slight advantage and we’ll have to make the most of being at home in the second leg, but we’ll have to show the same attitude we did today,” he added on the upcoming second leg.

Commenting on Marco Rose’s men who gave a stiff fight for 90 minutes at the Red Bull Arena, Ancelotti insisted that the clean sheet they maintained on the night was worth its weight in gold.

“Leipzig are a good attacking side and they’re well organised with their wingers coming inside, while they’ve got two very good and different types of striker. Keeping a clean sheet is great and it shows we did a good job.”

“We struggled with the positioning of their wingers in the first half but we sorted it out later on. Even so, having to dig in was to be expected here,” he added.

Having played gruelling clashes against Atletico Madrid and Girona this month, the Real Madrid dressing room has battled an unforgiving schedule. The manager, however, insisted that the team was in good physical shape, saying,

“The team is in good shape. Today was a pretty tough test in that sense because Leipzig played with such intensity. We almost always played in a low, compact block because we wanted to ensure they couldn’t make the most of the transitions. The team is fine because we have top-quality players in that sense.”

The difference between the two sides was a solitary strike from Brahim Diaz, albeit an extra-terrestrial one. Ancelotti was full of praise for the goalscorer who has taken all his chances in recent weeks to impress.

“Since his time in Milan, he looks more powerful, stronger and with greater conviction and personality. He didn’t play so much at the beginning but whenever he’s been involved, he’s always contributed. Now he’s full of confidence in his game.”

“He scored a spectacular goal, it was incredible. Of course, the goal was the highlight but he worked as hard as anyone. It was a tough, difficult game but the team was focused and they dug in until the end,” he added.

Staying on the topic of Diaz, the coach also revealed what he expected from the Spanish winger and whether he lived up to his expectations.

“The first thing I thought when he picked the ball up is that I didn’t want him to lose it, and he didn’t. Whenever he’s filled in for Jude, he’s done a great job. I didn’t want to change the system and I wanted Vini Jr. and Rodrygo to play wide.”

“Brahim took a knock on his ankle and the calf, they’ll assess him tomorrow. I don’t think it’s a muscular issue,” he added on the player’s injury scare.

Andriy Lunin put in a sensational shift last night, making nine saves including five from inside the box. He notably prevented a stunning 2.46 goals on the night in what was an unreal display of authority.

“He was brilliant. He’s highly motivated and playing with real confidence. Playing helps him grow in confidence and he was outstanding today, he did a fantastic job in every respect,” the coach said in appreciation of the goalkeeper.

Ancelotti’s focus then shifted onto central defence where Aurelien Tchouameni has established himself as a mainstay amidst the club’s injury list.

“He’s fully understood what the team needs right now. He’s taken to the role incredibly well, it’s as if he’s been playing there all his life. He’s very intelligent positionally and he’s strong in the duel and the air,” he said about the Frenchman.

“I told him it was an emergency and he’s happy to fill in. I wonder what he’ll tell me when that’s not the case. The crisis we’ve got at the back at the moment is being mitigated by a huge commitment from everyone,” he added.

He then praised and singled out all the Real Madrid stars who were responsible for Real Madrid’s stunning defensive record despite the long injury list.

“Tchouameni, Nacho, Carvajal, midfielders Valverde and Camavinga, who do an incredible job, the wide players who drop back in and run for the team. We’re a team who play for each other and we have quality. If you take quality and add commitment, great things can happen.”

As the press conference proceeded, Ancelotti admitted that the UCL was the big dream for the season and that his men would give it all for the top honour.

“We want to win the Champions League, but it is such a tough competition to win and we have to be very competitive like we were today to do our best.”

Arriving at the evergreen topic of officiating decisions, the coach commented on RB Leipzig’s disallowed goal, saying,

“Ask the referee but I think it was interference with the goalkeeper because the player is pushing Lunin and it was a pretty clear offside.”

He also gave his two cents on Vinicius Jr’s yellow card and was in support of the referee for the same.

“It wasn’t for dissent, it was because he didn’t stand far enough back from the set-piece. It was for wasting a bit of time, not for dissent. I’m not going to complain about that.”

Finally, Ancelotti revealed what the long discussion between him and Marco Rose was about on the night, emphasising that the Leipzig coach was apologising to him.

“He apologised to me at the end and that’s that. They didn’t put the ball out when we had done so.”

Source: Real Madrid website

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Real Madrid News

PSG president wanted Real Madrid to bear Mbappe’s €80 million loyalty bonus

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Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

It is only a matter of days before Kylian Mbappe is officially confirmed as a Real Madrid player.

The French superstar announced his departure from PSG as a free agent recently and even though nothing is official yet, everything points to him arriving at the Spanish capital club.

An official announcement and presentation are expected to take place sometime before the UEFA Euro 2024 starts.

While the move is all but done, it appears that PSG, in particular president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, are left with a bitter taste over Mbappe’s imminent exit.

Al-Khelaifi wanted Real Madrid to pay €80 million

As has already been reported, Al-Khelaifi tried to convince Mbappe to snub Real Madrid by presenting various arguments which had no effect.

Now, French publication L’Equipe has brought forth a report which claims that the PSG president simply cannot accept the fact that Mbappe is joining Real Madrid for free.

And things are now happening behind the scenes which suggest that the Frenchman’s departure will be far from smooth and amicable.

Indeed, as per the report, PSG have not paid Mbappe his salary for the month of April as well as an additional bonus he was due.

This is because of the €80 million loyalty bonus payment that the club had made to the France captain back in February, even though he had waived it off after deciding not to renew his contract.

Headed for an ugly split with PSG. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

In August 2023, after he was frozen out of the team for refusing to extend his contract, Mbapp agreed to give up his loyalty bonus so that PSG do not suffer a huge financial hit as a result of his leaving as a free agent this summer.

However, Al Khelaifi made a U-turn and granted Mbappe the loyalty bonus in February this year, with the caveat that Real Madrid cover the €80 million as compensation for the 25-year-old leaving for free.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, however, refused that demand as he deemed that it was completely out of the question, as the La Liga champions are not obligated to pay for a player who will be out of contract in a few weeks.

A complete breakdown

Things have not been well between Mbappe and Al-Khelaifi ever since the player informed him of his decision to leave PSG.

The report suggests that the pair are no longer on speaking terms and that lawyers are involved in trying to resolve the matter of the unpaid dues.

PSG are looking for written confirmation that their all-time top scorer will waive the €80 million, which he had agreed to in the past, only for the club to make the payment.

As for Mbappe, he wants the money he is owed as part of his salary which was not paid in April.

Al-Khelaifi has not had the best relation with Perez either and this development further escalates the situation.

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