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Ancelotti: “I should consider the home crowd when deciding my tactics”

The main quotes from the coach’s Friday press conference.

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk - UEFA Champions League Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media on Friday, previewing Real Madrid’s Saturday night clash with Rayo Vallecano. The Italian warned that this won’t be an easy game and praised Andoni Iraola’s high-flying side, stating in his press conference that: “We need to have a complete performance tomorrow because we’re facing a team who are playing very well. I like them. They defend well and play direct. So, we’ll have to adapt well to the situations of the match.”

This is another home match for Real Madrid, but there were whistles at the Bernabéu on Wednesday given the way Los Blancos approached that game against Shakhtar Donetsk. Ancelotti defended his tactics, while admitting that he also has to consider the home crowd’s desire for good football. He said: “Each match is different and we defended deeper against Shakhtar because they can hurt you if you really press them. The tactics were the same in both games against Shakhtar, but in the first match we scored five and then the second match played out different. But, the tactics were the same in both games. Tomorrow, against Rayo, we’ll have different tactics to that. I should consider the reaction of the home crowd when deciding these things, because the other day they didn’t like the way the team defended deeper. What the fans think is important and I must consider it.”

The coach is, though, happy with the defensive improvement made by Real Madrid since the return of some of the injured defenders. He said: “I think we’ve improved defensively, although we can still have a better defensive organisation. In the Shakhtar goal, two of the defenders were further ahead than the others so we have to work on that. In the last four matches, we’ve conceded just three goals.”

On his rotations policy, Ancelotti defended his decision to only make two substitutions in the Shakhtar game and dismissed the claim that the starters are fatigued. He said: “Rotations are done to motivate other players and to rest others. I don’t think the team is that tired. It’s true I only made two substitutions last game, but I didn’t want to change the way that game was going because I felt we had it under control. In midfield, I haven’t changed much partly because Fede Valverde hasn’t been available.”

Ancelotti on the players who are left out

With Ancelotti not making many rotations right now, he was asked about the frustrations of those being left out and told a story. He said: “Yesterday I was speaking with a player, whose name I won’t reveal, and he told me a very interesting thing. He said ‘Sometimes a player is substituted because they’ve not played well and the player does understand that’. I said ‘So if a player understands that they’re not playing well, why should that player be upset when substituted?’ and he replied ‘A footballer who doesn’t get angry at being substituted, even when playing poorly, isn’t a footballer’. I completely agree with that. Players need to be angry about that, but angry with the coach and not the person who is the coach.”

Eden Hazard is one player being left out and Ancelotti answered a separate question about the Belgian, saying: “Obviously, he isn’t happy not to play. He deserves to have minutes because of all he is doing and he will have minutes if he keeps this up and has faith. I don’t know if he’ll start in the next game, I have to look at that. I’m sorry for him. It’s easy to leave a player on the bench when they’re not acting professional in training, but he is acting professional. In terms of his position, in the 4-3-3 Hazard could play on the left, where he always has, but we have to see if he could also play on the right. He is right-footed and could play there.”

Ancelotti on fan anger towards Bale

The Gareth Bale situation was brought up again, with Ancelotti stating that the Welshman won’t be in the squad against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday and that he will then go away with Wales. Explaining this, he said: “He has the medical all-clear, because he’s back in training. He’s now going with the national team and if, when he comes back, he deserves to play then he’ll play. If the national team calls him up, then we have the obligation to release him and we’ll explain clearly the injury he has had and that he has only had a couple of days of training. Their doctors will evaluate him. Neither the national team doctors nor the player will take risks.”

The fan anger towards Bale was then brought up and the coach was asked if he defends Bale so much because he feels like his father or because of the success the forward’s goals brought Ancelotti during his first stint at the club. To that, the Italian replied: “I’m not his father. Maybe fans are angry with Bale and maybe he hadn’t had the best period here, but don’t forget what Bale did here to help us win the Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2014 and the other Champions League he helped to win against Liverpool. He has had significant injuries.”

Ancelotti on the lack of set piece goals

One issue brought up during the press conference was Real Madrid’s lack of set piece goals this season. Ancelotti referred back to his Everton team from last season when replying to this one, saying: “Yes, we haven’t scored from set pieces and we’re working on this and on the positioning inside the box at these situations. That’s a problem that we have to fix soon. Last year, with Everton, my team scored a lot of goals this way. There, we had good set piece takers, just like we do here. We just need to work on this.”