As Atletico Madrid hosted bottom-placed Levante, there was a familiar tension in the air. Diego Simeone’s side has not been commanding at all against smaller opposition this season, and with the pressure of the top four looming large, the Wanda Metropolitano was visibly nervous.
What followed was 90 minutes of fights, controversy, VAR checks, but just the one goal. Unfortunately, that solitary finish was from Gonzalo Melero, who sealed the win for Levante.
As it stands, Barcelona are level on points with Atletico with a game in hand. They will travel to the southeastern coast of Spain to take on Valencia, while Simeone leads his men to Pamplona to lock horns vs Osasuna.
Ahead of the clash, the Argentine manager addressed the media as part of his pre-game press conference.
On Griezmann: “Griezmann? I prefer to think about the team. I just came from lunch with Gil and Andrea Berta. We look to the future by focusing on the present. We’re in a 14-game race in which there will surely be six or seven teams with possibilities of entering the top 4.”
On the dressing room: “The situation in the locker room is what you’d expect after a painful defeat, but everyone is excited to have a new opportunity and focus on the game against Osasuna, a team that plays very well and is in a good moment.”
On the team’s planning: “Miguel Angel Gil, Andrea Berta, and I get together once or twice a month and we talk about all the situations: good, bad, difficult, spectacular. Everything that happens to us throughout the season.”
“We, the players, managers, people and coaching staff, must focus on being together and looking for the way out of this difficult moment. It’s similar to the difficult time during the pandemic years ago, where we were sixth in the standings and finished third”.
On his motivation for the rest of the season: “The motivation to live, I have it daily. I am in a club where I want to be. Looking to the future, we try to solve the problems of the present. It’s not necessary to speak outward, We must speak inward and be clear about where we’re headed.”
On their bad form: “Despite the not-so-good moment that we are all going through, I absolutely believe in the players I have. There is a squad, we need to work well and I’m sure they’re going to do it.”
Source: Atletico Madrid
Ancelotti talks Courtois, Militao, Bellingham, VAR controversies ahead of Las Palmas vs Real Madrid
Coming off a highly controversial game against Almeria, Real Madrid will now travel to Gran Canaria to take on Las Palmas tomorrow as part of the early kick-off.
Carlo Ancelotti spoke about the clash tomorrow, starting off by confirming his goalkeeper for tomorrow, “Lunin will start tomorrow.”
He also added that Madrid were looking to get back to their usual level after back-to-back poor performances, one of which included elimination against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey round of 16.
“We are motivated to return to our best level after 2 bad games.”
The Italian gaffer also commented on the biggest football story in the world today, which was Jurgen Klopp announcing his decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season.
“It’s quite surprising, I understand. Working for a long time with the same club and players lowers your motivation a bit. He’s doing a fantastic job at Liverpool.”
And of course, Ancelotti also spoke about the leaked VAR audiovisual, some of which are highly controversial for all parties involved. Barcelona coach and players have also commented on the same, in light of the Negreira case.
“They have talked a lot. Everyone knows what has happened in the last 20 years in Spanish football. The Civil Guard is carrying out an investigations. That is the real problem of Spanish football.”
Luckily for the manager and fans, all injured players — minus the ACL trio of David Alaba, Eder Militao, and Thibaut Courtois — are available. Jude Bellingham is suspended, however.
“Everyone is available now after the recent period of injuries.”
“Making up for Bellingham’s absence tomorrow? Brahim and Joselu are available options. They were able to show themselves after I relied on them as substitutes,” he added.
And as far as Militao and Courtois are concerned, both of whom tore their ACL early in the season, Ancelotti suggested that they could make their return before the season ends.
“Courtois and Militão both have the option to play this season. The recovery process is going very well, they are training on an individual level. It is February and these types of injuries last 6-8 months, so I think they will recover before the end of the season.”
Source: Mundo Deportivo