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‘The booing and criticism were deserved’: Ancelotti admits poor Real Madrid performance



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s second-leg clash against RB Leipzig was more, if not as ugly as the first leg at Red Bull Arena. The Germans were all over Los Blancos on the night and were perhaps the better team over the two legs.

Yet, their finishing let them down time and time again, leaving Real Madrid the berth in the quarterfinals. Vinicius Jr scored the team’s lone goal at Santiago Bernabeu, while the opposition managed to pull one back to make the aggregate score 2-1 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Speaking to the media after his team’s qualification to the next round, Carlo Ancelotti was very critical of Real Madrid’s performance and admitted that they were made to struggle over the two legs.

“We had to dig deep, more than we thought we might have to. It was difficult and we played badly. Now we’re pleased to reach the quarter-finals.”

“We’re in a better position than ever because we’re seven points clear in the league and the quarter-finals of the Champions League. If I’d been told this at the beginning of the season, I’d have taken it,” he added, proud of his team’s position at this stage in the season.

Speaking on where Real Madrid fell short in terms of performance against RB Leipzig, the Italian tactician attributed it to the team’s lack of intensity and his poor selection on the night.

“We have to be critical because it has happened again. When we have a small lead we don’t know how to handle it mentally. We don’t press and we lack intensity.”

“Maybe I made a mistake in the line-up, but I wanted to bring more intensity and energy, and we didn’t do that. That’s where we have to improve and evaluate what we didn’t do well,” he added.

Ancelotti then explained why he opted to deploy five midfielders and just one attacker against the Germans in what was a bizarre, yet failed experiment.

“My idea was to put the midfielders in with energy to press high up, maintain a high tempo and prevent counter-attacks. It was a weak performance, with a low block and we weren’t able to press high.”

“It was a tough game, we couldn’t handle this kind of advantage as we did last season against Liverpool. It also happened to me in my first season against Schalke when we won the first leg 0-2 and lost the second leg 3-4. We have to prepare for the games in a different way,” he added on his previous experiences with the dynamic.

Ancelotti’s Real Madrid just about scraped by vs Leipzig. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

The Santiago Bernabeu was far from impressed with Los Blancos’ performance in the first half, sending the team into the tunnel with echoes of boos across the stadium at half-time. Ancelotti lauded the crowd for their demanding nature and stated that the criticism was deserved.

“We have to accept criticism when it is deserved and today’s criticism is deserved. The booing at the end of the first half were deserved and I think they woke us up. We played better in the second half.”

“You need to have a demanding crowd like the one at the Bernabéu because the whistles woke us up at certain times in the second half. Although we’re pleased to reach the quarter-finals, we have to be critical and we should’ve played better. I wouldn’t play the same eleven,” he added in retrospection.

Looking forward, however, Ancelotti promised the fans in the stadium that his team would dish out better and more pleasing performances to watch than the ordeal that unfolded on Wednesday night.

“Our fans always help and support us. We’ve had spectacular and historic nights in this stadium. Today wasn’t a good night in some respects, but now we have another quarter-final at the Bernabéu and the atmosphere is definitely going to be spectacular.”

Commenting on Vinicius Jr’s goal on the night, which eventually turned out to be all that separated the two teams, the Italian gaffer was all praise.

“I saw the move for the goal, and it was spectacular: the pass, the run and the shot. Then Vinicius pushed the defender, but I didn’t think it was a red card.”

Having played games week in and week out for months now, the topic of mental fatigue was rightly one of the questions posed to the manager after last night’s clash.

“We lost our freshness, we had less control, less directness in the play and we were lazy in possession. We have to make up for this soon. We have two games before the break. There we’ll have time to relax mentally because the team is tired in this regard,” Ancelotti said on the team’s fatigue.

“After the break, we’ll come back better. We may have Courtois and Militão for the quarter-finals and that’s good news,” he added.

Towards the end of his press conference, the coach revealed that he wished to deploy a double pivot against the Germans to primarily control two players who posed serious threats in the first leg.

“Defensively it was important to keep Simons and Olmo under control with Tchouameni and Camavinga. That’s where the danger was in the first leg. We opted for a 4-3-3 to let Kroos get forward a bit more.”

“They managed to play out from the back well with the two centre-backs and the two inside players, that created problems for us and we couldn’t put more pressure on them,” he continued why his ploy failed.

Addressing the half-time change he made which turned the dynamic of the game around to an extent, Ancelotti revealed what Rodrygo brought to the scene, albeit not without self-criticism.

“We changed the system and I brought on an extra forward in Rodrygo. I used a line of four with Tchouameni and Kroos as pivots, with Bellingham on the left and Valverde on the right. If I had to change anyone in the game, I might as well have changed the coach.”

Speaking on the new UEFA Champions League format that was announced earlier this week, the Italian took a firm stance against increasing the number of games in the calendar year.

“I’ve got a rough idea of it. I think all formulas that put more games into the season are wrong.”

Finally, he was asked about a personal matter in the investigation against him by the prosecutor’s office.

“This isn’t the right place to talk about this. I’ve said something in a previous interview. It’s an old story, it doesn’t affect me and I hope it’ll be resolved soon. I’m calm and the only issue I have is for the team to play better,” he concluded.

Source: Real Madrid website

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid star unlikely to travel to London with the rest of the squad



Lunin Real Madrid
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid will be on their way to England this Thursday as they gear up to take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday.

The players and the staff will be on a flight to London tomorrow to prepare for the clash at Wembley.

However, according to a report from journalist Arancha Rodriguez, Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin might not travel with the rest of the team tomorrow.

The 25-year-old Ukrainian goalkeeper has not trained for three days in a row after coming down with the flu.

Lunin has overcome the flu, but he still has the virus and there is still a chance he could be contagious.

Lunin will not travel with the rest of the team. (Photo by Rafal Oleksiewicz/Getty Images)

As such, Real Madrid, aware of the importance of Saturday’s match against Borussia Dortmund, are considering leaving the Ukrainian behind to avoid any possible contagion ahead of the Champions League final.

The goalkeeper will likely not travel with the rest of the expedition to London on Thursday and will fly alone on Saturday to avoid the risk of infection.

On Thursday, Lunin will undergo another check-up and, depending on the viral load, he could even travel on Friday. But it seems impossible for him to travel with his teammates.

It has already been suggested that Lunin would be making way for Thibaut Courtois in the starting lineup against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. The likelihood of that has increased following the events of this week.

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