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Ancelotti talks Hazard, Camavinga, Rudiger, Alaba after Espanyol 1-3 Real Madrid



Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid continued their 100 percent start to the new season as they defeated Espanyol 3-1 at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday night.

Vinicius Junior put the defending champions of Spain in front just 12 minutes into the game, but Espanyol fought their way back into the contest and equalised close to half-time through Joselu.

For most of the second half, Real Madrid pushed hard in search of a goal, but were unable to find a way through until the 88th minute when star man Karim Benzema stepped up and made it 2-1 to all but secure the victory for his side.

Deep into stoppage time, the veteran French international scored another goal to make it 3-1 and ensure that Los Blancos walked away with all three points.

The result sees Real Madrid climb back to the top of the La Liga standings, ahead of Real Betis, who are the only other team to win three in three, on goal difference.

Speaking after the match in his press conference, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti lamented over the lack of intensity from his team after the first goal was scored, which allowed Espanyol a way back.

“We had a very good start. We controlled the game well and struck early. We then dropped our intensity a bit, we weren’t effective up front and it became more difficult after they equalised because there were a lot of stoppages,” he said.

But the substitutions which saw Ancelotti introduce the likes of Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo Goes helped Real Madrid turn things around in the latter stages.

“The game became end to end and that suited us. Camavinga was already instrumental last season. When the game is stretched his energy gives us a boost, just like that of RodrygoValverde or Vinicius,” he said.

“The reason we won the game was because we had more energy than our opponents on the pitch.”

Explaining his decision to not bring on Eden Hazard, Ancelotti said: “Hazard might have been an option, but I didn’t want to unbalance the team. We already had Rodrygo, Vinicius and Karim playing. Bringing on another forward could have been risky.

“He has my full backing and it’s not a problem if he doesn’t play, doesn’t get on the pitch or doesn’t warm up.  He will get playing time. I’m not Hazard’s, Benzema’s, Mendy’s, Camavinga’s or Valverde’s coach. I’m Real Madrid’s coach.”

Further explaining his selection and substitution calls, he said: “Each game is a different story. If I’d started with Rodrygo and Camavinga we might not have had so much control in the first 25 minutes.

“If Kroos and Modric had come on instead, we might not have had that energy that we had. But choosing is like betting. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Today, the Real Madrid coach made a good bet.”

“If I wanted to protect a player I’d leave them at home. I made four changes and it could’ve been five. But I could’ve used any player and I decided to send on Dani for the last change because he’s got more experience.”

On his decision to start Antonio Rudiger at centre-back and move David Alaba to the left-back position, Ancelotti said: “I wanted to have more aerial presence and Rudiger perhaps has more than Alaba. But Alaba is incredible going forward.”

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Real Madrid News

U-turn? Benzema hints at Real Madrid stay during ceremony: “Reality is not the internet”



Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

There has been a lot of talk around Karim Benzema’s situation over the course of the last week or so, with reports claiming that the Frenchman was on his way out of the Santiago Bernabeu.

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, it was reported that Benzema was joining Al Ittihad as part of an incredible deal worth nearly €200 million. The striker was also offered 100% of his image rights and advertising deals by the Saudi government.

Over the last day or so, it has been reported that the move is all but official at the moment, as Benzema has accepted the offer, and will soon inform Real Madrid about it.

Benzema was awarded the MARCA Leyenda awards for contribution to sports today, and speaking during it, he dropped a rather cryptic message about his future – one that says quite the opposite to what has been in the news recently.

“Speak to the fans? Speak about what? Why should I speak of the future if I’m in Madrid?”, Benzema said.

“It’s the internet speaking, and reality is not the internet,” he added.

This certainly falls away from the departure line for Benzema, who was reportedly already contemplating his life away from Madrid.

At first, though, he was hesitant about speaking about his future, saying, “Staying or leaving Real Madrid? At the moment, I’m here…we have a game on Saturday.”

He repeatedly talked about the fans, calling them the best in world football. He also said, “I know how much Real Madrid fans love me. I feel that when I’m on the pitch, I give my best for them, always.”

“I always say that we play with 11 on the pitch but also with a crucial factor, Real Madrid fans,” Benzema concluded.

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