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Ancelotti: “Finals are always special, especially with Real Madrid”

The coach previewed the Super Cup final in a press conference.

Barcelona v Real Madrid - Spanish Super Cup Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti has previewed Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final, outlining the challenges he expects to face against Athletic. The Italian said in his Saturday press conference that both sides know their opponents well, given that they played on December 1st and December 22nd, with Real Madrid edging both matches.

The coach said: “We know this team really well because we’ve played twice already in the past month and a half. Both those games were very competitive and it’ll be the same tomorrow. They are solid defensively, they’re well-organised, they’re quick up front, they’re good at set pieces. We must keep all of that in mind. The plan will be different to the semi-final, because Athletic are different to Barcelona.”

Ancelotti then spoke some more about the style of his team’s football, after some criticised the counter-attacking approach used against Barcelona. Answering those critics, he said: “I respect all kinds of football. If someone thinks possession is the best way to win, that’s respectable. It Cádiz want to play the way they did against us, for example, that’s also respectable. There’s no magic way to win matches. A perfect system doesn’t exist. I am proud to say Real Madrid can play on the counter, because that’s not easy. Our counters against Barcelona weren’t one long ball. It was many passes and we had six players in their box for the third goal. Some might say we sit back and defend, but we’ve scored more goals than anyone else in LaLiga.”

For the Italian, coaching Real Madrid in a final once again is a special feeling. Asked if he thought he’d have the chance to do so again, he replied: “No, I didn’t think I’d be back. I’m happy about this entire period, not just this next match. Playing a final is always special and it’s even more special with Real Madrid, because Real Madrid are used to these types of matches.”

The coach also provided an injury update, stating: “Dani Carvajal tested positive for COVID-19 and I feel bad for him, but we are all used to dealing with situations like this. Otherwise, we’ve recovered well and don’t have many physical problems. There are doubts over David Alaba and Marco Asensio, but the others have recovered well. I never take risks with players, so we’ll see how they are. If they can’t play, I trust the others.”

Ancelotti on Marcelino

There has been discussion in the past couple of days about the special relationship Ancelotti has developed with Marcelino and the Italian was asked about this. He said: “Marcelino and I haven’t been together too much, but we speak before and after matches and we’ve built up a friendship together. I saw a photo yesterday about how we had faced each other in a match between AC Milan and Sporting Gijón many decades ago, but I didn’t actually remember that! Sometimes there are people with whom you have something special even without spending much time with them.”

Ancelotti on playing in Saudi Arabia

Asked directly if playing these Super Cup matches in Saudi Arabia makes him uncomfortable, Ancelotti responded: “No. There was a good atmosphere at the Clásico, with fans of both clubs. We know it is important for the federation to play here to help finance the lower leagues.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius vs Athletic

It was put to the Italian that Vinícius could struggle if Athletic adopt a low block, to which he replied: “We have been pushing him to cut inside in general. He did that against Valencia and scored. His speed can also be useful without the ball and without dribbles out wide.”

Ancelotti on the Mendy spin… that he missed

In the semi-final against Barcelona, Ferland Mendy opted for a Zidane-esque spin on the edge of his own penalty area. Ancelotti was asked if he was scared by that move, but he couldn’t actually recall that moment. The coach replied: “Hmm, I don’t actually remember that. What I remember is him dribbling past Dani Alves as we scored the second goal. But, I’m going to look for the other one. He is a player who does take risks sometimes, but he helps us a lot in bringing the ball out. I thought he was one of the best performers in El Clásico.”