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Ancelotti: “People criticised me for not rotating, but are now unhappy that I am rotating”

The coach discussed the Levante game, Haaland and the final vs Liverpool.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Ahead of this midweek round’s Real Madrid vs Levante match, Carlo Ancelotti held his pre-match press conference on Wednesday lunchtime and discussed that game, as well as facing several questions about the Champions League final and the transfer market.

Discussing the Levante match first of all, he was asked if he is considering wrapping his star players in cotton wool to avoid injuries ahead of the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 28th. While the Italian confirmed that he’ll keep rotating over the next few weeks, he dismissed that idea because he wants his squad to stay sharp, explaining: “We want to keep up a good rhythm and win tomorrow. We can’t wrap the players in cotton wool. If you lose your competitive edge, that’s a problem for the Champions League final. We do have to manage fatigue well, which is why I’m rotating the team a little. All season people said ‘the coach never rotates’ and, now that I’m rotating, people still aren’t happy. I think this is a good time to spread minutes among everybody, to arrive in the best shape for the match on May 28th. Players who didn’t start against Atlético Madrid are back, like Courtois, Vinícius, Benzema…”

The Levante game will see two Italian coaches go up against each other, in Ancelotti and Alessio Lisci. While the Real Madrid boss hasn’t met Lisci yet, he is impressed by the young tactician’s work, stating: “I don’t know him personally, but I’ve seen the way his team is playing and he has Levante playing much better. They’re playing with heart and personality. I’m looking forward to meeting him tomorrow.”

During the press conference, Ancelotti analysed the league campaign as a whole and said: “We’ve had a fantastic league campaign. We started it well and only had a couple of truly worrying moments, the away loss at Espanyol and the home defeat against Barcelona. But, apart from those games, we’ve always competed well. It’s a league title without any ‘buts’.”

Ancelotti on Aston Villa vs Liverpool

Asked if he watched Tuesday night’s Aston Villa vs Liverpool game, Ancelotti confirmed that he had. The coach said: “I watched the match as a football fan, but more so as an analyst. We know Liverpool very well and I know them very well. In each of the last four seasons, I’ve faced them at least twice. With Napoli, we played Liverpool in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 Champions League campaigns, as well as in pre-season. Then, at Everton, I’ve faced them in the Merseyside derby. So, I know them very well and they also know me very well. Liverpool also knows Real Madrid. So, I think there are no secrets going into the final.”

Ancelotti on the work of Pintus

Antonio Pintus’ impact on the season has been important and now the fitness coach is trying to prepare the team as well as possible for the Champions League final. Discussing his fellow Italian, Ancelotti said: “He is a great professional and one of the best I’ve worked with in this area. I think we’ve combined physical work with tactical and technical work in a good way this season. He is a friend, a humble person and, above all, a great professional, who looks after the little details. The players trust him a lot.”

Ancelotti on Manchester City’s signing of Haaland

With Erling Haaland’s move to Manchester City confirmed, the Real Madrid coach was asked about this. He replied: “I don’t like to talk about this kind of things. Haaland is a great players and Manchester City is a great club, but I’m just thinking about my squad, that has given me another Champions League final.”

Ancelotti on Rüdiger and Mbappé

Real Madrid will make signings of their own, with Antonio Rüdiger and Kylian Mbappé set to move to the Bernabéu. But, Ancelotti didn’t want to discuss these transfers either. He explained: “I think we’ll have time to talk about things like that after the final. It’s not the moment to talk about the future of Real Madrid, as we need to focus on these next few weeks and the final. I don’t want to talk about the transfer market. I want to speak about tomorrow’s match. This isn’t a day to discuss presumed arrivals.”

Ancelotti on managing the 2021/22 squad

Speaking about this season’s squad, Ancelotti provided some detail on what it has been like managing the players. He said: “Sometimes I’ve had problems with players in the past. Without saying names, there have been players who get frustrated when I tell them they’re resting in a certain match. But, here, again without naming any names, when I tell a player who has won four Champions League titles that they’re resting in a certain match, they say ‘no problem’. The players here at Real Madrid have a different level of professionalism. That’s why it has been a simple season for me.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius and Rodrygo

2021/22 has been an important season for both Vinícius and Rodrygo. Asked about them and what they can keep doing to improve, the coach said: “Vinícius can still improve when without the ball and use his speed in other areas as well as one-on-one dribbling. Rodrygo is going to get better and better, because he is talented, intelligent and humble. I think he has already improved a lot over this season and he has made a difference in some big matches. We’re lucky to have a player like him.”

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