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Ancelotti: “Wednesday was difficult, Thursday was better, today I’m confident and tomorrow we’re going to win”

The coach offered more detailed analysis of the PSG defeat.

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media on Friday ahead of this weekend’s LaLiga Santander game against Alavés, but most of the discussion was about the midweek loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. His only comments on the upcoming game were: “We now need to focus on this match, as this is an important stage of the league season. We have a lead and want to keep it. I have the whole squad available, which is a very good sign. Our main striker is back. He has scored a lot of goals and provided a lot of assists. He’s feeling even fitter than he did against PSG, so he’ll help us.”

Moving on to discuss the PSG defeat, Ancelotti was firstly asked how he has felt in the days since the first leg. He replied: “I spoke with the president and other directors afterwards. We were all hurting. We were honest about the fact we played poorly. The result was less of a problem than the performance. A 1-0 loss isn’t that bad. The best thing about the game was actually the result. Then, Wednesday was a difficult day. Thursday was better. Today I have a lot of confidence. Tomorrow we’re going to win.”

Ancelotti on potentially changing his tactics

One of the most refreshing things about Ancelotti’s press conferences this season is that he is willing to discuss tactics and he went into detail about the way his side’s low block has stopped working and about potentially moving away from that approach.

He stated: “By playing a low block we had been able to create good counter attacks with good vertical passes, but we’ve struggled with that in recent times. It’s not necessarily the low block that’s making it difficult for us. It’s that we need to be quicker and more vertical when we win the ball back in a low block. We’re struggling to play it out from the back more than we were. Sometimes, instead of playing a pass four metres forward, we’re now playing it backwards. Being honest, we played very poorly against PSG in aspects that we had been doing well in. Bringing the ball out from the back had always been good with Modrić, Kroos, Casemiro and Alaba, but we had a bad night. It doesn’t worry me too much, because I know we can fix the small details to get back to what we were doing well.”

He continued: “Because we were doing so well with a low block for a while, maybe we forgot that we could use a high press more. We’re thinking about this right now with the coaching staff. Maybe we could press higher more than we have been doing. Maybe we did forget about it in recent times. We’ll try it in the coming matches.”

Ancelotti on the squad’s fitness levels

Asked if he thinks the squad is tired and if this is why Real Madrid conceded late goals against Athletic Club and PSG, the Italian dismissed this notion. He said: “It’s not a physical thing, as the team is doing well physically. We’ve conceded late goals, but that wasn’t because of a physical dropoff. That can happen. We played our best towards the end against Villarreal. We actually weren’t suffering as much towards the end against PSG compared to at the first 15 minutes of the second half.”

Ancelotti on the level of the 2021/22 squad

Asked if he thinks the current squad is good enough or if it needs to be strengthened, he replied: “I think this is a very competitive squad. For the future, the club will be thinking about its plans. As with every season, we’ll try to build the best squad possible. We never said this squad was going to win the European Cup. We just said we’d be able to compete, like every year.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius’ poor run of form

Vinícius hasn’t been as impactful in recent times, but Ancelotti is putting this down to the team’s overall issues. He explained: “Vinícius is suffering from the way the team is suffering. He had a very intense January. Now, in the next three weeks, we have fewer games and he’ll be more effective I think.”

Ancelotti on criticism

There has been a lot of criticism of the coach in recent days and he stated that some of it is justified and that some of it isn’t, saying: “The criticism is fair. I’m my biggest critic. I have to take responsibility. Many of your [the media’s] criticisms are fair and make me think more, but then some of the criticisms are nonsense, such as saying I argue with my players. I appreciate the serious criticism, but not the nonsense.”