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Ancelotti: “War is horrific and we’ve all shown our support to Lunin”

The coach also previewed Saturday’s short trip to take on Rayo Vallecano. 

Real Madrid Training Session Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media on Friday lunchtime and spent a significant portion of his press conference discussing the conflict in Ukraine, explaining how Andriy Lunin – the only Ukrainian player in LaLiga Santander – is coping. The coach said: “The president and I have spoken with him to show our support. We know it’s a difficult moment for him. It’s horrific. He is worried as he has people in Kyiv, his mother and friends. That naturally affects you emotionally. But, he has been professional and serious in the training sessions. Everyone at the club will be close to him and show him that we care. It’s very strange for this to be happening in 2022, but unfortunately it is. I hope it can be solved very soon. My grandfather was in WWI and my father in WWII and they told me many things about war. It’s a horror.”

Moving on to talk about Saturday’s match, Ancelotti pointed to Rayo Vallecano’s strong home form when they play in Vallecas. He stated: “It’ll be a difficult game because Rayo have had a good season, especially at home. A lot will be demanded from us, but we’ve been training well and feel we can put together a good performance. We reacted well against Alavés last week, especially in the second half, and I hope we can be even better again in tomorrow’s game.”

The coach was also asked about Real Madrid starting slowly in the first halves of recent matches and he admitted this is a problem and especially when going up against Rayo. The Italian explained: “It’s hard to say why this has been happening. But, it’s not physical, as then you’d play better in the first half and worse in the second half. We need to be ready for this tomorrow since Rayo are one of the best first-half teams in the division. We’ll make sure we start well tomorrow.”

Asked if he’ll consider trialling a Casemiro replacement in the league matches before the PSG second leg, Ancelotti shut that suggestion down by pointing out that the upcoming domestic games are also important. On the idea of trying others out in the Casemiro role, he said: “You could do that if you had friendly matches. But, we have two finals before the PSG game as winning against Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad would mean a lot for our league hopes. I’ll put my best team out. We’ll worry about replacing Casemiro later. Toni Kroos could replace him and he doesn’t need practice there since he’s played there many times.”

Ancelotti on the change in tactics

Ancelotti recently announced that Real Madrid would try to make some tactical adjustments. On this topic, he set out a timeline of the tactical changes so far this season, saying: “We’re trying to change the tactics a little to press higher and to be more intense. We decided to defend with a low block after what happened away at Espanyol and that worked well for us, but then we started struggling to counter. So, we want to move a little higher, press higher and have more control even when we don’t have the ball.”

Ancelotti on Asensio’s goals

Marco Asensio has been coming up with goals in recent games and Ancelotti is especially pleased with how the Spaniard is often scoring the first goal of the game. On that he said: “Marco is motivated and he’s good physically. He has made the difference in many games, scoring the opening goal at times. It’s not just that he’s scoring goals, but he’s scoring very important goals.”

Ancelotti on Barcelona’s improvement

Asked about Barça’s win over Napoli and if they have any chance of fighting for this season’s LaLiga Santander title, the coach replied: “I saw it. They did well, as it’s not easy to beat Napoli there. Barcelona can always fight for the league title. Even this year, they have a significant points gap, but they’ll always fight.”