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Ancelotti: “Valverde’s position depended on where Azpilicueta was”

The Italian is back and he discussed the first leg win at Stamford Bridge. 

Chelsea FC v Real Madrid - Quarter Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by Matthew Lewis - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti is back. He’s back from COVID-19 and he’s back in the good books of Real Madrid fans, while he was also back in the press room after the 3-1 win over Chelsea. Discussing the huge first leg win, the Italian said: “We had courage and did well playing out from the back, using Courtois well there. Then, we made the most of this with our forwards, with Benzema and Vinícius and with Valverde getting forward in transition. We need to respect this team, though. The second leg could be different. Plus, there’s no away goals rule anymore. I’m remaining cautious as I don’t think Chelsea played their best game, even if that was because of what we did. Things can change quickly in football so we’re remaining cautious.”

Asked if he had a message for his critics, the Italian simply responded: “There will always be doubts over the coach. I’ve always said the coach is to blame for losses and the players are responsible for wins. That’s the way it should be in football.”

Ancelotti on his tactics and Valverde’s position

Going into some detail about his tactical system and the position of Fede Valverde, he said: “We played with the same system as usual. The only difference was to have Valverde more focused on their left-wing-back. We then had Carvajal a little more inside to try to control Pulisic and Mount. Valverde did very well. It might have looked like a back five at times, but it all depended on the position of Azpilicueta, as Valverde always kept an eye on him. If Azpilicueta stayed deep then Valverde played as a forward. If not, Valverde held back.”

Ancelotti on the brilliance of Benzema

Obviously, there was some focus on Karim Benzema. Praising the Frenchman, Ancelotti said: “He’s like a fine wine, getting better with age. Benzema is a really complete striker and player. Benzema of course scores a lot of goals, but he also helps a lot with his movement and positioning. We’re really happy to have him.”

Ancelotti on the players who went off

The coach also provided a quick injury update, explaining that Karim Benzema and Fede Valverde are fine and that Éder Militão has a couple of knocks. He said: “Karim was just fatigued, he has no physical issue. Valverde was just fatigue too. Militão suffered a knock to the hip and then also the knee.”

Ancelotti on his recovery from COVID-19

The coach also provided an update on how he is feeling personally, after having had COVID-19 for a week. He said: “I feel good, I hardly had any symptoms. Unfortunately I had to leave the team for a week, but I came back and they were fantastic.”

Ancelotti on the boos for Courtois

Courtois was booed when he was on the ball in this game and Ancelotti, a former Chelsea coach himself, was asked about this. He responded: “The supporters can have an opinion. He had a good spell here. Sometimes these kinds of receptions are because they respect his quality. The important thing is it didn’t affect him.”