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Ancelotti: “It’s nonsense to think Benzema is sitting out to stay fresh for the World Cup”

The quotes from the final pre-match press conference before the World Cup break.

Rayo Vallecano v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Ahead of Real Madrid’s final match before the World Cup break, which is against Cádiz on Thursday night, Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media and stated that he wants the team to finish this part of the season in a positive way. He said: “We hope to finish the year well in tomorrow’s match. Even if the last few results haven’t been so good, I think we’ve had a good start to the season. We won the UEFA Super Cup, finished first in our Champions League group and we’re close in LaLiga, even with absences such as Benzema’s. I don’t want to give excuses. We can finish this first part of the season well tomorrow.”

Ancelotti on Benzema’s continued absence

Karim Benzema’s absence will continue into the Thursday game against Cádiz and Ancelotti insisted that the Frenchman does genuinely have a physical problem and that he’s not just taking it easy to stay fresh for the World Cup. He said: “It’s frustrating that Benzema hasn’t been able to help the team in these last few games, because he has so much quality. He has tried to come back, but he hasn’t been able to overcome the little issue he has had. The first injury was in the Celtic match and was quite serious and he recovered, but the last couple of issues haven’t been major. These issues are why he hasn’t been available. Karim is the most disappointed of everyone at not being able to play. He’ll now have to go to the World Cup not being match sharp. It’s nonsense to think Benzema is sitting out to stay fresh for the World Cup. I haven’t seen players taking it easy. Even in training, I haven’t seen this.”

Ancelotti on rotations

The coach was asked about rotations and if he thinks he could have rotated more. On that, he said: “Rotations are important, but you also have to think about who is in good form. Taking Rodrygo or Fede Valverde out of the line-up when they’re scoring almost every game wouldn’t be wise. I think we have rotated fairly well.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius being provoked by opponents

More and more opponents have been trying to provoke Vinícius into picking up cards and the coach was asked for his opinion on this. He replied: “It’s being suggested that Vinícius is a troublemaker, but he is the player who is fouled the most, hit the most, pushed the most. That’s the reality. Fair play isn’t as common in Latin countries. It’s much more common in other countries. But, fair play is one of the most important parts of football. Trying to provoke a player isn’t fair play, whether it’s physically or verbally, but Vinícius needs to improve in his response to this. He’s young, so he will improve in this aspect.”

Ancelotti on Tchouaméni’s poor performance vs Rayo

After Aurélien Tchouaméni had a poor performance against Rayo Vallecano, arguably his worst of the season, Ancelotti was asked for an explanation and said: “He had an injury and that halted a good moment of form. He is now coming back and he’s young, so still has things to improve. We have seen that Tchouaméni is a different player when he plays without Kroos. It’s clear that Kroos’ presence has been helping him.”

Ancelotti on Asensio’s good performances

The coach also acknowledged Marco Asensio’s recent good performances, saying: “I think he has been our best player in the last few matches, with assists and hard work. I think he deserves this period of good form, because he has kept working hard and has shown great character.”

Ancelotti on the winter World Cup

Finally, Ancelotti offered his opinion about this unique winter World Cup, saying: “I’m not thinking about it much. It’s a different kind of World Cup, the first one in winter and that has made this a different kind of season. I think it’ll be an entertaining World Cup because the players aren’t as exhausted as they sometimes are with a World Cup at the end of a season. There’s also no clear favourite for this one.”

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