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Real Madrid board and Ancelotti in agreement over decision about the first-choice goalkeeper

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Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

The debate surrounding who should be Real Madrid’s first-choice goalkeeper this season in the absence of Thibaut Courtois has been raging on for months with no clear victor.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti started with Kepa Arrizabalaga as his preferred option but an injury to the Spaniard opened the doors for Andriy Lunin, who made the most of his chance.

It has led to the Real Madrid boss constantly changing and rotating his goalkeepers on a game-by-game basis, which has raised some concerns about causing instability.

Lunin to be first-choice goalie, Ancelotti and board in agreement

However, based on recent performances, Ancelotti and his coaching staff are leaning towards handing Lunin the responsibilities of being Real Madrid’s first-choice goalkeeper for the rest of the season.

This claim comes from journalist Jorge C Picon, who reports that the Real Madrid board would be in agreement with the choice of installing Lunin as the starter ahead of Kepa.

After the game against Cadiz in November last year, Ancelotti had come out and claimed that Kepa would be his first-choice shot-stopper despite Lunin making an impression.

That statement did not go down with members of the board who felt Lunin deserved a shot because of his good performances and that his contract ran until 2025.

Since then, there has been more confusion, as the goalkeepers have been rotated without any specific pattern in place.

Kepa now the No. 2. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

No room for experiments

These constant changes in the goalkeeping position have complicated the situation. The rotations have impacted both players’ confidence, with the pair making mistakes against Atletico Madrid (Kepa in the Supercopa and Lunin in the Copa).

It has also affected the defence as well, with Real Madrid conceding more goals in recent matches.

As such, with an important run of fixtures coming up, Los Blancos have decided to do away with the rotation and install Lunin as the first-choice starter.

The Ukrainian has impressed onlookers with his dedication and professionalism in training even when he was not playing regularly. As for Kepa, he is reluctant to throw in the towel, hoping to turn the tables in his favour.

For the time being, the coaching staff, with the backing of the dressing room and the board, are planning to give Lunin the reins.

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti talks Kroos retirement, Tchouameni, Nacho, Mbappe ahead of Real Madrid vs Real Betis

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be playing their final La Liga game of the season tomorrow when they lock horns with Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It will be the final game that legendary midfielder Toni Kroos will play at the iconic stadium having announced his retirement.

Tomorrow’s contest could also prove to be captain Nacho Fernandez’s final home game ahead of a possible summer departure.

These topics featured heavily in manager Carlo Ancelotti’s pre-match press conference today heading into the contest against Real Betis.

Kicking things off, the Real Madrid boss shed light on how the team was preparing for the game against Real Betis, with an eye on the Champions League final versus Borussia Dortmund in a week.

‘It’s preparation for the final, we’ve worked well this week. It’s the end of the league, we want to finish it well, it’s a fantastic season, we’ve done well from start to finish,” he said.

“It’s the farewell of a legend of our club, we have to enjoy it, it’s an important day. It’s been a deserved league, with a very high score, it’s the easiest league of my career to manage, for the atmosphere, for the squad…. Very, very good.”

The chat then moved to Kroos’ retirement announcement and how he viewed it, to which Ancelotti remarked:

“Veteran players, legends, have to choose their destiny. Toni has made that decision and we have to respect it. We have to see him off as best we can. I respect his decision, it’s the decision of a man with balls, it’s the reality.”

On how Real Madrid plan to replace someone of Kroos’ stature, he added: “Replacing someone like that is almost impossible, but this squad has the resources in the young players to take responsibility and follow the path marked out over the last ten years.

“Every year it loses pieces, but it doesn’t lose the atmosphere, the attitude and the commitment, they have to maintain the clean atmosphere that exists. It depends on each individual, but I don’t think it was a complicated decision for him.”

Kroos’ final home game for Real Madrid tomorrow. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

On whether he spoke to Kroos to try and get him to reconsider his decision, Ancelotti replied:

“He was convinced. To say goodbye like that would be ideal. Then you have to have the courage to do it and I have a lot of respect for what he has done.”

During the press conference, Ancelotti confirmed that Aurelien Tchouameni was definitively ruled out of the UCL final, saying: “He’s ruled out for the final, but he’ll make it for the EURO.”

On whether the veterans will have to step up for the final part of the season, he said: “This generation has won titles and I believe it will continue to win them, and now we have the chance to win another one.”

Youngster Mario Martin has been called up to the first-team squad again for the Betis game after featuring against Alaves and Villarreal.

When asked if the 20-year-old has what it takes to remain with the senior setup in the future, Ancelotti said:

“He is progressing very well, he can be in the squad without any problem, he has quality and a good attitude. He, like other youth players, we can think that in the future he will be in the first team.”

Going back to the topic of Kroos, Ancelotti was asked to say what made the German international so unique, to which he responded:

“A very high and very consistent performance, with no drop-offs. One of the few who knows how to manage the tempo of games with possession. His passing is unique. He has contributed a lot to football, he is one of the best midfielders in history.”

When asked to pick his favourite game of Kroos, the Italian replied: “It’s difficult to choose one, because he has always played with a lot of continuity. He has always stood out.”

The matter of Kylian Mbappe then came up with Ancelotti being asked about the Frenchman’s possible involvement in the Olympics this summer.

“I don’t go into these issues. I like the Games, if I can I watch the Italian teams,” he said.

Finally, Ancelotti addressed the future of captain Nacho Fernandez, saying: “He hasn’t decided yet, we are waiting, but we are not in a hurry. After the season he can choose what he wants to do next season. Now his idea is to try to win the 15th.”

Source: AS

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