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Ancelotti: “Spanish football used to be more possession-based, now it’s more direct”

Several interesting reflections from the coach, even if there was zero discussion of the Elche game.

Real Madrid CF v CA Osasuna - La Liga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Even though Carlo Ancelotti’s press conference on Friday was supposed to be about Saturday’s match against Elche, there were no questions actually about that game. Instead, the coach was asked about a range of topics, including several questions about the state of Spanish refereeing.

On that, he said: “Pfft. I don’t want to get involved in this on the refereeing with VAR and added time. The end of matches are interrupted frequently and that’s a football problem, not a referee problem. Stopping the clock could be a solution. Having so many interruptions isn’t good for the spectacle. With VAR, I think it has, in general, solved many things. There are some rules that are complicated, in my opinion. Some of the recent examples aren’t fair for me because when a player is offside then the player is offside. There is a difference between objective and subjective decisions. I don’t know if Spanish refereeing is better or worse than other countries, but it’s different.”

Moving on to actually talk about football, Ancelotti was asked if he’ll always play 4-3-3 from now on, to which he said: “The 4-3-3 isn’t non-negotiable, but I think it’s the system with which the players are the most comfortable. There might be matches, or maybe at the end of matches, where having another striker could be useful to help Benzema in the penalty area. We have to keep working to create opportunities. In the Sheriff and Osasuna matches, we had chances but we have to finish them better. That means better crosses, better positioning in the penalty area, more players in the penalty area when we’re about to cross. We can improve on this.”

There was one fitness update during the press conference, with Ancelotti explaining that Luka Modrić is fine to play after missing out on Wednesday in the draw with Osasuna. The coach revealed: “Modrić is fine. He trained yesterday, he trained today and he’ll play tomorrow without problem. We were cautious with him and that’s why he didn’t play against Osasuna. It was to give him a rest.”

Ancelotti on suggestions of fatigue

One of the press conference talking points was the possible fatigue that Real Madrid’s squad is experiencing, but Ancelotti isn’t worried. He explained: “The physical aspect isn’t the most decisive. We need to be committed and play well technically and tactically.”

On the specific situation of Vinícius, who is playing almost every minute, the coach said: “He’s young so he recovers well. But, when he doesn’t feel fit or when his level drops, he’ll be out the line-up.”

Ancelotti on departures in the winter market

Looking ahead to January, Ancelotti was asked if he would stand in the way of any players who want out in the winter transfer window. He said: “In my career as a coach, I have never forced a player to stay when they wanted to leave. If they want to leave, they have to leave. There’s no doubt about that in my opinion.”

Ancelotti on how Spanish football has changed

Having coached in Spain between 2013 and 2015, before returning now, Ancelotti is well-placed to offer insight on how LaLiga has changed stylistically. Without really being asked, the coach offered the following reflection: “I think Spanish football now, compared to my first spell here, is more global. There are good teams who play less possession football and more direct football. There are teams who defend very well, like Osasuna and others. In my first stint, Spanish football was more so focused on possession, but it’s now more direct and vertical. But, I liked what Andoni Iraola said the other day about long passes, because that can be a way to attack and Rayo are doing that well. There’s not a better or worse football. Each coach has to work with the characteristics of his players.”

Ancelotti on the Xavi to Barcelona links

Finally, the Real Madrid boss was asked about the possibility of Xavi taking over at Barcelona. He didn’t have much to say on that, replying: “I know him well from his time as a player and wish him the best as a coach.”