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Ancelotti: “I want Lunin to have minutes and he will play soon”

The coach spoke to the media on Friday afternoon

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

Carlo Ancelotti addressed the media on Friday afternoon, previewing Real Madrid’s weekend game against Villarreal and discussing a variety of different topics. On the Villarreal match, he said: “We’ll be facing a team with a lot of quality, experience and good organisation. They’re used to big games. There are always things to improve at the start of the season. I think we have a lot of quality up front. But we have to work together in defence. We’ve worked a lot on this because it’s the element we need to improve the most. I think we were more aggressive against Real Mallorca and we want to keep that up. We want to keep being aggressive when we don’t have the ball.”

Asked about exactly how he is able to get his team to improve, when the calendar is so busy, Ancelotti stated that a lot of video work is being done. He explained: “You can’t be intense in training every day. We’re watching videos so the players can see what they’ve been doing well and what they can improve on. I think that you can also be productive between games by watching videos.”

Sticking with the issue of training sessions, the Italian was asked what’s important to work on in modern football. He replied: “More than a tactical or technical development, it’s the physical element that has changed a lot in football in recent years. Teams try to play more vertical to win the ball and launch counter attacks. I think there is a lot of focus on the physical aspect, but not just on individual players who may be more physical. It’s with entire teams.”

Eden Hazard doesn’t fit that description of a physical player, but Ancelotti revealed in the press conference that the Belgian is working well. He said: “He’s training well and doesn’t have any problems. He recovered well after the game against Valencia, but I can’t guarantee he’ll play every match. Even if he is fit, I might want to give him rest to pre-emptively prevent a possible injury.”

Ancelotti on benching Asensio

Marco Asensio had an excellent performance against Real Mallorca in midweek, scoring his first hat-trick for the club, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start the next match against Villarreal. Without naming Asensio specifically, Ancelotti said during his press conference that: “I need to manage the squad well. It’s not easy. If you give a player a rest and the replacement does very well, it’s tough when you need to then bench that replacement player who came in. I need to put out a team that can win every game. It’s normal for those who didn’t play the last game to have greater chances of playing the next game, because they’re fresher.”

Later, Ancelotti was asked if he was referring to Asensio with that comment about leaving a backup on the bench after a good performance. To that, he was vague as he replied: “Marco was and is an important player. He would have still been an important player even if he hadn’t played against Real Mallorca. He showed his quality in a position he’s not used to.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid’s defensive line

One of Ancelotti’s more interesting answers in the press conference concerned Los Blancos’ defensive line and David Alaba’s role in it. The coach said: “Alaba’s position is based on where the ball is. We might have a higher line at times and Alaba is very good in this, but we can’t have that high line if we’re not pressing well. If we’re not pressing well then we have to set up in more of a low block. We’d like to have the defensive line on halfway, but that’s not usually possible.”

Ancelotti on Andriy Lunin

Even though Real Madrid are conceding a few goals, Thibaut Courtois remains in good form and Ancelotti was asked if Andriy Lunin will ever play. The coach said that the Ukrainian will be given a chance soon, saying: “The goalkeeping position is unique, but we have a very strong youngster in Andriy Lunin and our plan is to give him some minutes. I don’t know exactly when. But, he deserves to play and he will play soon.”

Ancelotti on Benzema’s Ballon d’Or chances

Karim Benzema is in excellent form right now and Ancelotti believes he should be a candidate for the 2021 Ballon d’Or. Although, the coach said Benzema could even win the Ballon d’Or further into the future. On the centre-forward, he said: “Yes, I think that because of what he’s doing now and what he did last season he has to be on that shortlist of players who can win the Ballon d’Or. He has time to win it. This won’t be his last good season. He’s line a fine wine.”

Ancelotti on Barcelona’s crisis

Most Real Madrid fans will be happy to see Barcelona struggling, but not Ancelotti. Or, at least, that’s what he said publicly, telling the media: “I watch their games because I like football. I’m not happy if a team is going through a tough time and things aren’t working. I evaluate the matches I watch, but I’m looking for things that can help my team. But, I don’t like when things aren’t going well for a team, whether it’s Barcelona or any other team.”