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Ancelotti: “Bale having minutes for Wales next week would be good for Real Madrid”

Shared his thoughts ahead of the second meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Real Betis Sevilla v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Ahead of Real Madrid’s home match against Shakhtar Donetsk, Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media in a press conference and underscored the importance of this round of fixtures in the 2021/22 Champions League group stage. He said: “We know what we have to do in this match, having played this team just two weeks ago. So, we know them well. We’ll try to win this one too because this is an important round in this group. Losing this match would force us to win the next two. Winning would bring us very close to qualification, which is our first objective of this season. We have a squad that tends to have the right mentality for these types of matches.”

This will be a tactical tussle between two Italian coaches and Ancelotti was asked about his counterpart Roberto De Zerbi. He replied: “They have a coach with clear ideas. He has built an identity at all his teams, at Sassuolo and now at Shakhtar Donetsk. I think he’ll have a successful career because he has a nice way of understanding football.”

Looking at his starting line-up, Rodrygo will be out injured and this could open up a spot for Marco Asensio in his theoretically natural position. On the Mallorcan, Ancelotti said: “I ask Asensio to do what he is good at, which might be different to Rodrygo. For example, he can shoot so well with his left foot and we need to enjoy that. He is also providing assists and is proving that he can be important.”

Ancelotti was also asked about Real Madrid’s poor home form, having won just two of their five matches since returning to the Bernabéu. He replied: “We scored 11 goals in our first two matches back and then just one penalty in the next three games. We’re looking at this. I think we have to just keep trying to play quickly and vertically to create quality chances. I think this will be solved before long.”

Ancelotti on Hazard’s opportunity

Eden Hazard has fallen down the pecking order at Real Madrid, but Ancelotti hopes the Belgian keeps himself ready. The Italian referred to Mariano’s good performance against Elche, explaining: “Hazard is working hard. He just needs to keep the faith that his moment will come, just like it did for Mariano. He hadn’t played a single minute and then played really well on Saturday, demonstrating his professionalism. This is what Hazard and the others who aren’t playing must do.”

Ancelotti on Bale being in the Wales squad

There was then a follow-up question about Gareth Bale’s professionalism, given that he is set to go play for Wales this November despite having not played for Los Blancos since August due to injury. Ancelotti responded: “He is committed. His situation is quite clear. He has had a significant injury and is close to recovering. He could return to training ahead of the match against Rayo Vallecano, so then he would be available for his national team and they could call him up because he is important for them. They would evaluate him and see if he is able to play. We’d be happy if he goes to play for Wales because he could earn some minutes and return to us in a better condition.”

Ancelotti on the possibility of Luka Jović leaving in January

Luka Jović has been linked with another January loan move away from Real Madrid and Ancelotti was asked what his plan is for the Serbian. He replied: “I think he is happy to be here. I try to show him affection because he is a forward I like. He knows I like him, but he has possibly the best forward in the world in front of him, in the form of Karim Benzema. He’ll definitely have minutes and he could have started last weekend, but he had a knee issue.”

Ancelotti on how he selects his full-backs

Perhaps the most interesting answer of Ancelotti’s entire press conference was when he discussed his full-backs and how he decides who to start and when. He explained: “Each full-back has their own characteristics and we have to enjoy this. You have to consider these characteristics when deciding which full-back will play and you have to consider which winger is playing when deciding which full-back will play. For example, when you have Vinícius you don’t need a full-back who pushes forward much. If you have Asensio playing up front, you’ll need a full-back who can push forward more. It’ll depend and change based on the tactics of each game. My full-backs are all quite complete, as they can all attack and defend, but you have to consider the opposition sometimes too.”