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Ancelotti: “I’m hesitant to change the 4-3-3, but we don’t have a right forward”

The coach previewed the final game of 2021 in his press conference.

Real Madrid CF v Cadiz CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid’s final game of 2021 takes place on Wednesday night and it’s a difficult one, as they go away to Bilbao to face Athletic Club again. Previewing the match, Carlo Ancelotti spoke in his press conference about how this will be a tough test because of the various absences and about how he might have to change the formation. He said: “This will be a difficult game, played with the intense atmosphere of San Mamés, which I like. It’s a good opportunity to demonstrate the squad depth we have. We’re missing Casemiro and Modrić, but it’s an opportunity for players like Camavinga. I don’t know if I’ll change the system, but I’m thinking about it. Our 4-3-3 system has helped us a lot in recent weeks, so I’d be hesitant to change it. If I do, the only reason I would do so is because we don’t have a natural right forward and we could play a 4-4-2. I need to wait until tonight. At night, ideas come to me.”

Discussing Vinícius and Eden Hazard, Ancelotti was asked if the Brazilian is still fresh enough to start what would be his 22nd game in a row and if Hazard is able to play what would be a second game in a row, given that he himself said earlier in the season that the Belgian struggled to play twice in four days. On the suggestion that he could rest Vinícius, he responded: “Absolutely not. And tomorrow he’ll play his 22nd. For as long as he is good physically, he’ll keep playing. We’ll need him tomorrow. As for Hazard, he has been training better for a month or so now, so he wouldn’t be risking physical problems if he plays tomorrow. But, I need to evaluate him today. It’s quite clear that he’s not a wide right forward. He’s a player who prefers the left wing, but he had to play on the right against Cádiz, although not close to the touchline because that’s where Lucas was. He likes to come inside and we have to look at this, because I want my players to be comfortable in their position.”

There has been debate in recent days about the differences in COVID-19 regulations in different autonomous communities in Spain, especially when it comes to Modrić and the fact he tested negative so quickly. While Ancelotti agreed that the rules need to be clearer, he added that the Croatian isn’t in the right condition to play anyway. He explained: “Modrić can’t train right now because he’s not well, even if he’s negative. He has symptoms. So, there’s a medical problem and not just a problem with the rules. But, [the rules] do need to be clearer.”

Ancelotti on the run of games against defensive teams

Real Madrid couldn’t break through the low block of Cádiz on Sunday and it was put to Ancelotti that the next three matches – against Athletic, Getafe and Alcoyano – could present a similar challenge. After making clear that Athletic are a different kind of team, he went on to discuss this problem by saying: “I’m not worried. In the last game, we had many shots, but just lacked some finishing. Athletic are a more vertical kind of team than Cádiz, so it will be different. It’s about being clinical. One of my first coaches told me that when you have the ball then you can’t concede and you also have a better chance of winning. But, possession alone doesn’t win matches. Horizontal possession can lead to counters. I want vertical possession.”

Ancelotti on Sevilla vs Barcelona

While Real Madrid fans don’t want to see Barcelona win matches, a Barça victory over Sevilla this Tuesday night would help Los Blancos in their title tussle with Sevilla. Asked who he’ll be supporting, Ancelotti replied: “What I’d like is to see a good game of football. And I think it will be. Barcelona are getting better and Sevilla are in good form. I’ll watch it on TV and enjoy it.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid’s lack of penalties

Asked for his thoughts on the fact Real Madrid aren’t winning many penalties, Ancelotti agreed that he thinks they should have had more. He said: “No, it seems strange to me. I hope that in 2022 we can have better luck.”

Ancelotti on Ceballos’ setback

Dani Ceballos returned to training last week, but has suffered a minor setback. The coach revealed that: “I don’t think he’ll be in the squad because he has been out for a long time and had a minor muscular overload. I’m not going to risk him. But, he’ll bring quality and desire when he’s back.”

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