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Ancelotti talks Rodrygo, Benzema, Valverde, Kroos after Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk

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Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Real Madrid took a step closer towards qualifying for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 as they secured a 2-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

An early goal from Rodrygo Goes set the tone for Los Blancos before Vinicius Jr doubled their tally with a fine goal. However, the Ukrainian giants pulled one back through Oleksandr Zubkov before half-time.

Real Madrid had a flurry of chances in the match but lacked the clinical edge, which set up for a tense finish. However, they were able to see the game out without any hiccups, returning to winning ways after dropping points in La Liga over the weekend.

Speaking after the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti insisted that he was satisfied with the outcome of the contest, but was not entirely pleased with the performance.

On the result: “I’m satisfied because the team played well, pressed and combined very well up front. We’ve had many opportunities But we weren’t right. The important thing was to have opportunities and we’ve had them.”

On the contributions from midfield: The top three have combined well, doing spectacular things. Valverde has contributed a lot with his punch. Kroos and Tchouameni have handled the ball well.

On qualification to the next round: “Next week we have the opportunity to go through the group winning and focus on La Liga. It is normal that the Champions League takes away your energy and this opportunity is very important.”

On the team’s intensity drop after 2-0: “The team relaxes when it can relax. We were 2-0 up and the game was controlled. Intensity is important, but it can’t always be done. We lowered the intensity thinking that the game was controlled and comfortable – a wake-up call because the game wasn’t over.

“Sometimes it’s normal for this to happen because we were playing very well and it seemed easy, but these games are dangerous. We’ve only given the opponent one chance behind. I’m not worried.”

On Rodrygo’s best position: He changed his position to put pressure on the centre-backs when the ball came out. He has played more inside with Karim and in some games, it can be done. With the ball, he has extraordinary quality and can play anywhere. His position was a change to try to defend with more pressure.”

On Benzema not scoring: “He has been very good and has been decisive with his quality and positioning. He has played for his teammates and has been present in the area. He hasn’t scored, but that’s the last thing on our minds. He has grown a lot in his condition and has made a complete match.”

Source: Real Madrid official website

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid veteran tipped to stay at club by ex-star: “His wish is to renew”

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Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid are in for a busy summer ahead. While the club are expected to undergo a massive squad overhaul, they are also facing pressure to renew the contracts of some of the most established players in the squad.

Luka Modric is among the list of veterans, who have their contracts expiring at the end of the season. At the age of 37, there has understandably been a layer of uncertainty over his future at Santiago Bernabeu, especially amid interest from Saudi Arabian entities.

The Saudi league has reportedly offered Modric the opportunity to join any club of his choice in the Middle East nation, with a two-and-a-half-year contract worth €40 million per season.

But in a recent media interaction, Predrag Mijatovic, former Real Madrid player and close friend of Modric, has backed the veteran Croat to continue at Santiago Bernabeu.

“When Luka Modric is well, Real Madrid plays much better. His wish is to renew one more year,” said Mijatovic (h/t El Larguero), who played for Real Madrid from 1996 to 1999, featuring in 118 competitive matches for the club.

Mijatovic’s comments confirm recent reports suggesting how Modric is leaning towards a prolonged stay at Bernabeu. It appears the ageing midfielder has no desire to accept the lucrative terms coming from Saudi Arabia just yet.

The former Tottenham star is confident of his abilities to continue at the highest level for at least another year before he can the next and final step in his career.

Since joining Real Madrid in 2012, Modric has featured in 462 competitive matches, racking up 36 goals and 74 assists. His contributions have been crucial to the club’s success over the past decade. Whether or not the midfielder is now willing to extend his stay for a further year remains to be seen.

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