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Ancelotti talks Rudiger, Bellingham, Vinicius, Camavinga, Guler, Brahim after Real Madrid 1-0 Mallorca

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid began their year in the best way possible, securing three valuable points against Mallorca after a hard-fought clash. The game was all balanced until the 78th minute, but an Antonio Rudiger finish from Luka Modric’s delivery set the team up for the win.

The result helps the Merengues to retain the pole position on the league standings, although Girona’s win on the night means it is still not uncontested.

Speaking after Real Madrid’s first win of 2024, Carlo Ancelotti sat for a long and detailed press conference that covered topics including the top performers, the injury-returnees and the hectic schedule ahead. He began by commenting on Real Madrid scraping away a win from a chance stemming from a set-piece.

“In this first section of the season, we have scored many goals from set-pieces and my coaching staff is working well on this. I don’t take care of this. We have good kickers and formidable finishers. There are games in which the dead ball gives you an advantage.”

Elaborating on the stiff challenge Mallorca posed at Santiago Bernabeu, the Italian manager said: “Today it has been difficult, against a strong team in the duels and that defends very well. We haven’t been at our best level either. We have lacked freshness and success in the last third. We have won by a well-done dead-ball situation.”

The clash last night marked the midway point of the league season for Real Madrid. 19 games under their belt, the manager took a moment to assess the team’s position.

“In this first round we have done well and I think it couldn’t be done better. It’s already part of the past and we have to look forward. It’s going to be a challenging League.”

“The surprise has been Girona, which is doing very well. It was foreseen from the beginning that Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético were going to fight it until the end,” he added on Girona who pulled off a late 4-3 win over Atletico Madrid on the night as well.

The manager was then asked to comment on Real Madrid’s spectacular numbers in defence despite having no end to the list of injuries. He praised the defence for having conceded just 11 goals so far in La Liga, saying,

“The fact that we concede few goals makes me happy and happy. It means that the team works well and there is commitment. With Atlético we had a problem in the back, but we have fixed things and we are very solid. It’s everyone’s job and that’s important.”

“The goals conceded against Atlético opened our eyes that in that match we were weak in the centres. We fixed it by putting the centres closer to the penalty area,” he added.

Ancelotti then moved to the subject of the January transfer market which was initially seen as Real Madrid’s chance to fortify the defence. In recent days, however, it has come to light that Los Blancos will make no new signings.

“I keep in mind that in the past we have had problems this month, but it gives me confidence that we are recovering important players,” the manager said denying any new signing.

“Camavinga and Mendy will be there for the next one and the condition of Vini Jr., who has been away for a long time, will improve. We suffered in the past, but I am confident that we can do it well this month,” he added.

Antonio Rudiger was the hero on the night, scoring a late winner for Real Madrid in a game that appeared set to end in a stalemate. The coach praised the German star and his leadership this season.

“He has taken advantage of the injuries of the centre-backs, which have been important and is having a very high level in terms of continuity. He is always focused and ready. He’s an insurance at the back and is doing very well, the best.”

Real Madrid’s MVP. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Ancelotti was then quizzed about Jude Bellingham’s failure to score a goal on the night, for it has almost become a ritual for him to find the back of the net in every game this season.

“It’s not surprising that he doesn’t score goals. He has worked a lot and when he has scored the goals it has been a plus. He has lacked a little success and freshness, like Rodrygo and Vini Jr,” he said about the Golden Boy.

Speaking about Vinicius Jr’s return to the field after a long injury, Ancelotti said: “The change was agreed. He had a major injury and the question was whether to start the game or leave later. He played 60 minutes and they came in handy.”

The Italian gaffer also had a lot to say about Arda Guler, for the youngster did not make his debut for the club despite being a part of the squad on the night.

“It’s okay, don’t worry. He has started training with the team and I am very aware that he is 18 years old. Calm and tranquillity with him because he will be a very important player for the present and future of the club.”

“It is important that there is patience. I have it and so does the player. Little by little he will have his minutes and his prominence because the quality is there,” he added.

Brahim Diaz was another young player whom the manager made it a point to heap praise on in his post-match press conference.

“It’s at a very good time. I don’t know how he could have missed that goal, but the header is not his highest quality. He and Joselu have contributed something different to a team that was suffering from some kind of suffering.”

As the press interaction reached its final few questions, Ancelotti was posed with the evergreen dilemma between Kepa Arrizabalaga and Andriy Lunin.

“There will always be a goalkeeper, but we’ll see who. Lunin played today because Kepa has had problems in the last few days. Kepa will play the next game and when we arrive in Arabia I will evaluate who will play the next one,” he said.

He then went on to provide the media with a sneak peek into his plans for the upcoming Cup clash and the possible rotations on the night.

“There’s going to be a bit of rotation. Some youth players may be in the squad and maybe I choose to put a central with Nacho. We must try to make a good game.”

Finally, the Italian coach concluded his press conference with a harsh stance against the referee on the night, Alejandro Muniz Ruiz.

“He is a young referee, who has quality. They have been small details of cards. We have protested a lot, too much in my opinion because they have shown a card to Lunin and Rodrygo for protesting. I don’t like this.”

Source: Real Madrid website

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid superstar the No. 1 footballer currently, says Spain manager

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Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Speaking in an interview with Vamos (h/t Mundo Deportivo), Spain manager Luis de la Fuente has acknowledged that Real Madrid ace Jude Bellingham is the No. 1 footballer in the world currently.

Bellingham has enjoyed a spectacular debut season at Real Madrid and has been one of their chief protagonists as the Merengues won the La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup titles and made it to the UCL finals.

Even though his form has somewhat dipped in the latter stages of the season, the England international remains integral to Carlo Ancelotti’s plans and one of Los Blancos’ most important players.

And Spain manager Luis de la Fuente expressed his admiration for Bellingham, saying:

“He is a player who is doing particularly well. It’s a subjective view, but I like Bellingham’s style a lot, I like that type of player, powerful….”

When asked if Bellingham is the No. 1 player in the world at the moment, De la Fuente replied in the affirmative, as he said: “I think so.”

Bellingham has played 40 times in all competitions for Real Madrid this season, racking up a total of 23 goals and 12 assists in the process.

The 20-year-old’s exploits with Los Blancos in his debut campaign have put him in contention for the Ballon d’Or this year.

A strong performance in the finals of the UEFA Champions League next month and a solid run with England at the UEFA Euro 2024 could further his chances of winning the Golden Ball, although his teammate Vinicius Jr. is also an equally strong contender.

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