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Ancelotti responds to Xavi: “Football has both attacking and defending”

The coach also previewed Sunday’s trip to Sevilla.

Real Madrid v Chelsea FC Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon and discussed a number of topics, such as the game against Sevilla on Sunday. But, one of the key discussions in the press conference was about Xavi’s recent comments in which the Barcelona coach claimed that the difference at the Camp Nou is there is a need to win and to play well when doing so.

Ancelotti was asked to respond to that and, curiously, he did so by praising Atlético Madrid and pointing out that playing well doesn’t just refer to what you do in possession. The Italian explained: “What does it mean to play well? Playing well for me means doing well when you have the ball and when you don’t have it. You can also play well in defence. If you play well with the ball but poorly without the ball then I don’t think you’re playing well overall. Football has both attacking and defending. A team is playing well when they both attack and defend well, which can be done in different ways. I heard a lot of debate about the Manchester City vs Atlético Madrid first leg, but I felt Atlético defended very very well. Could they have done more with the ball? Yes. But, the defensive performance was very very good.”

Moving on to preview the trip to Sevilla on Sunday night, he said: “Given that we last played Tuesday and now play Sunday night, we’ve had time to recover to prepare against this strong opponent. We know it’ll be a difficult game, but we’re prepared physically and mentally. Unfortunately, we don’t have Marcelo or Mendy for this game. But, generally, we’re good physically . Everyone is waiting for Real Madrid to slip up, but I hope that doesn’t happen since this title race isn’t over yet.”

Ancelotti on Luka Modrić’s contract situation

Luka Modrić was brought up and Ancelotti was asked if he’ll stay on and if he reminds the Italian of any past players he has coached. The response was: “I think he’ll finish his career at Real Madrid. I don’t know when, but I don’t think there will be any problems in renewing for next year. I had Maldini who won his last Champions League aged 40, so if I have to pick someone to compare him with then that’s who I’d say. They’re two legends.”

Ancelotti on Camavinga’s improvement

Discussing Eduardo Camavinga and how he is getting better and better, Ancelotti said: “He is doing what we expected he could so, since he is a player with a lot of quality. Sometimes he has struggled a bit more when playing as a starter, but now he is getting better and bringing what the team needs from him, which is energy. He made a difference against Chelsea and PSG.”

Ancelotti on what Militão can improve

Another young player who was brought up was Éder Militão and, while Ancelotti praised the centre-back, he also explained that there is room for improvement. He said: “He has surprised me a lot with his quality. He can get even better, even though what he has done already has been great. He could focus even more and he could improve in reading defensive situations, since he sometimes relies too much on his physical qualities. But, like I said, he has surprised me in a positive sense as he is having a spectacular season.”

Ancelotti on Kroos’ angry reaction to being substituted

Toni Kroos reacted angrily to being taken off against Chelsea, but Ancelotti doesn’t think there will be any lingering issue. He said: “What happened has happened. I know he wasn’t angry at me personally. So, I wasn’t worried about it and we haven’t spoken about. I have no problem with Kroos. Apart from his sporting skill, he is a top person. So, I don’t need explanations. It was all left behind at the end of the match.”

Ancelotti on Eden Hazard’s surgery

Eden Hazard has had a plate removed in his ankle, which means he’ll miss the rest of the season, and the coach was asked about his recovery. He said: “Hazard is doing well now that this plate has been removed, because it was annoying him. I won’t say much about his medical state to respect his privacy, but he couldn’t carry on with that plate because it was causing problems and infections.”

Ancelotti on Vinicius Tobias’ arrival

Vinicius Tobias has arrived at the club and is working with the B team, so Ancelotti was asked how the 18-year-old Brazilian is settling in. He replied: “He is doing well and learning quickly. I think he has a lot of quality and he is a right-back with a lot of energy. The plan is for him to play a role in the future, as it is for all players in the academy.”