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Ancelotti: “We won’t take any risks with Benzema”

The coach previewed the Copa del Rey match vs Athletic.

Real Madrid CF v Elche CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, Carlo Ancelotti held his first press conference since the January international break and discussed Real Madrid’s Thursday night Copa del Rey tie away at Athletic Club, as well as a number of other topics.

Previewing the cup game, the Italian said: “This is an important match for us and one we’re excited about. It’ll be difficult and the atmosphere will be incredible. We’ll need to be at our best, as we’ve faced this team many times this season already and I expect another even game.”

Discussing team news, he was asked if Karim Benzema has recovered enough to play and also if the South Americans will be able to start, given that they only returned from international duty on Wednesday. On this, Ancelotti said: “We still don’t know about [Benzema], as he has been working individually. He is feeling good and we’ll decide after training, but we won’t take any risks. Then, we need to evaluate [the South Americans]. If they only have some fatigue, then that’s fine and they’ll be in the squad. Even if they don’t start, we might need them later in the game. Vinícius and Rodrygo are only just back in Spain after playing, but they’re only in their early 20s and not in their 60s like me!”

Ancelotti on his left-back options vs Athletic

For Thursday’s game, Real Madrid are without the injured Ferland Mendy and the suspended Marcelo. That leaves Ancelotti a problem to solve at left-back, which he discussed by saying: “We have two options there, as we could play David Alaba or Nacho at full-back. I know which option I’m going for, but I’m not going to reveal that.”

Ancelotti on his expired coaching licence

There were reports over the past week of how Ancelotti’s coaching license had expired. Asked about this, the Italian explained: “I am a man who tries to respect all the rules. I think there was a misunderstanding here. It expired, but the Spanish federation helped me to do a course in October. It was just a miscommunication.”

Ancelotti on a quiet winter and busy summer

Real Madrid didn’t have a single entry or exit in the January transfer window, so Ancelotti was asked if he expects a busier summer. He said: “We’ll see. That’s a long time away, so it’s strange to talk about it right now. Let’s speak about that window in a few months.”