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Ancelotti talks Vinicius, Rodrygo, Benzema, Valverde, Asensio after Real Madrid 4-1 Mallorca



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Real Madrid reclaimed the top spot in the La Liga table as they came back from a goal behind to defeat RCD Mallorca 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Vedat Muriqi had given the visitors the lead in the first period but a golazo from Federico Valverde helped Real Madrid equalise just before half-time.

The reigning champions of Spain and Europe turned on the style in the second half as Vinicius Junior made it 2-1 after being set up brilliantly by compatriot Rodrygo Goes. The latter himself scored a stunning goal to kill the game off before Antonio Rudiger added a fourth in stoppage time.

The victory meant that Real Madrid continued their perfect start to the new season and moved back to the top of the table after Barcelona had taken over from them on Saturday.

Talking about the game in his post-match presser (h/t AS), manager Carlo Ancelotti said: “The match was difficult, the heat, the goal we conceded, nothing was predictable. We recovered well in the second half with a cool head.”

Ancelotti started the game with Eden Hazard as his No. 9 but shifted Rodrygo into the position in the second half after the Belgian was taken off. When asked who among the two he preferred, the manager replied:

“Both, I asked for something different from Hazard, to play a little outside of the final third. In the second half we did better when Rodrygo was striker, he combined well with Vinicius.”

On the performance of Valverde, Ancelotti said: “Federico is a great player. A great midfielder, he can play as a winger as well, a complete player. This year he is closer to the goal and scoring more. And I think he is going to score more. He is a fantastic athlete and a great player.”

The manager also spoke about the performance of Vinicius and the fact that he gets under the skin of his opponents, saying:

“He’s a special player, he must be understood as a player with his own style. So I understand that it is normal that some opponents will not accept this and may get angry about this. But he is learning little by little, constantly gaining experience.”

Marco Asensio did not play a single minute in the afternoon but has been in the news due to his angry reaction on the touchline for not being considered for substitution. Talking about the winger’s outburst, Ancelotti said:

“Asensio is angry and it’s normal – if he gets angry it’s because he wants to play and I take that into account. He’s an important player.”

On Rodrygo’s contributions to the team, he said: “Rodrygo is good in the various positions he plays, of course, it is easier to score when you play closer to the goal than when you are a winger, Vinicius is like Rodrygo, they understand this well.”

Rodrygo and Vinicius were on target (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

On Karim Benzema’s absence, Ancelotti said: “The team have been able to make up for Benzema’s absence so far and this gives the group a boost and confidence. We hope that we can get Karim back as soon as possible.”

Elaborating on the problems that the hosts placed in the first half when they could not score freely, Ancelotti said: “We did not suffer from scoring at the beginning of the match because Hazard was in the team, but because not all positions were occupied on the field.

“For the future, nothing will change in this regard. Rodrygo may also play in the same position, and Hazard as a striker because he moves a lot.”

On how he rated the performances of Hazard and Dani Ceballos, the manager added:

“It was a game where there was not a lot of space for the striker, so what Hazard did was what I asked him to do, to catch the ball and open the spaces so that his teammates could go deeper. It was a good match for both of them.”

Talking about the schedule and the rotation policy he is adopting this season, Ancelotti said: “Until we play the World Cup, we will not have a problem. After that, this is the question that arises.

“We will have to assess who has returned from the tournament and needs to rest, and it is possible to play the first matches after the World Cup without having all the players in the group, but this is the schedule now.”

On Vinicius’s treatment from opposition players and referees, he said: “The referee should be respected even when he makes mistakes in some moments. Vinicius has exceptional quality, so it is normal for him to have arguments and for some players to attack him.

“This is normal, this is because of his talent and high quality, I do not need to change anything. I see that Vinicius respects the referees and all the players he faces”

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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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