Real Madrid have started their Champions League campaign with a 1-0 victory away at Inter, which Carlo Ancelotti believes was partly possible because the Serie A champions tired themselves out in the first half.
Speaking afterwards, he said: “I think it was a very intense match. Inter used a lot of energy in the first half with their high and intense press. They paid for that in the second half. They were better physically in the first half and then we made the most of that to be better than them in the second half. When you can introduce fresher players into a game that was so intense, with that first half, it’s obvious that the fresher substitutes can help a lot. I thought of putting Hazard in during the second half, but Inter defended strongly in the middle. So, I decided to put players out wide, with Rodrygo or Vinícius, to try to attack from out wide.”
Following on from that comment about the team’s fitness, Ancelotti was asked how he thinks his team is physically in general, to which he said: “Physically, I think the team is doing well. We have players with lots of energy like Vinícius, Camavinga, Casemiro or Valverde.”
On the match-winner Rodrygo, the coach explained that there will be times when the Brazilian can make more of an impact off the bench than as a starter. He said: “Often those who are substituted on can help decide the match. Like Rodrygo, not only because he scored but also because of what he did defensively. Sometimes he could start, while other times he could come off the bench to make a difference.”
Ancelotti also spoke about the player who gave the assist, Eduardo Camavinga. On the new signing, the coach said: “We have to be patient with him, although he has a lot of quality. He can progress well and will have to improve defensively, which he will.”
Ancelotti on Courtois’ saves
Thibaut Courtois had to make several excellent saves in the match, but Ancelotti doesn’t think Los Blancos’ defence was that bad. He explained: “Courtois saved us in that first half, making two or three saves. But, I don’t think we were bad defensively. We lost the second ball a couple of times, but everyone played well and were focused against Inter’s strong front line.”
Ancelotti on the left-back position
When the starting line-up was announced, most would have expected David Alaba to play at left-back and Nacho to start in the centre, as has happened before. But, it was the other way around as Alaba played centre-back and Nacho left-back.
Asked about the decision to pick Nacho ahead of Miguel Gutiérrez, the only remaining fit left-back, the Italian explained that experience was a key factor. He stated: “If Alaba is healthy and there aren’t emergencies in other positions, he’ll play at centre-back. So, [Nacho played ahead of Miguel] because of experience. Miguel is young and he had played on Sunday night.”