Ancelotti: "Jesé is one of our most important players"

Denis Doyle

The Italian coach admits his team didn't play a brilliant game but was pleased with the three points. He also shared some info on the status of Xabi Alonso, who had to leave the game at halftime.

First of all, Carlo Ancelotti talked about the performance of the team and how the winter break might've affected the team: "It wasn't a very good game, especially the first half. It was kinda slow. After Christmas you lose some of your rhythm and intensity but the important thing was to get the win. We improved in the second half, playing with more intensity."

On Xabi Alonso's condition: "He had a physical problem. He feels a little bit uncomfortable after his eardrum issues. We have to wait a little bit for that eardrum to heal." Xabi suffered a burst eardrum against Valencia a couple of weeks ago.

Ángel Di María was booed as he went off the field in the second half. He looked upset and actually made what looked like an obscene gesture at the crowd: "Di María tried to play just like the rest of the team. The booing came at the right moment. We improved after that. Booing can actually be positive sometimes."

About Di María's gesture, he added: "I didn't see the gesture. I shook his hand but didn't see what he did." Later, he said: "For me, nothing happened, I trust Di María. If Di María did answer the crowd that way, it's not just a mistake. It's two mistakes, but life goes on."  Di María's gesture was inexcusable. Whether he deserved the booing or not, he can't act that way. He just can't. Period.

On the defensive performance of his team: "We weren't as balanced as we usually are. We allowed some counter attacks because we used a lot of offensive players. We also tried to attack a lot from the sides. Dani Carvajal was great for us. Two of his crosses meant two goals for us. At times we just need to take risks. Celta defended well and we had to be more aggressive. That's why we lost some balance but we need to improve on that."

Benzema, who scored one goal, received positive comments too: "He's been playing well and not just because he's scoring. He's really important in the style we're trying to play. He knows how to pull back to find a better position. That creates more danger."

Ancelotti talked about the formation adjustment for this particular game: "The 4-4-2 was a variation for this game. I know Cristiano likes to play more on the sides but it's important to see what he can do right next to Benzema. He scored two goals playing in an unusual position for him."

The Italian also had some praise for Jesé and was asked if he was going to start against Osasuna next Thursday: "We have a lot of games to play this month and I'm going to use the best team available because we need to keep winning. Jesé might start against Osasuna. Even if he doesn't start, he's one of our most important players."

At the end, he talked about the importance of improving soon: "I'm not worried about this game, although we had some defensive and balance issues. We need to improve. Right now, it's important to keep those teams ahead of us from getting a bigger lead. We need to try to get closer to them while also playing better."

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