Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti talked to the press during Tuesday’s Open Media Day ahead of the upcoming Champions League Final against Liverpool. Naturally, one of the first questions for Ancelotti was about Mbappe’s decision to extend his contract with PSG.
“I never talked about players who weren’t here. It’s quite clear to us that we’re thinking in the match ahead, we have the utmost respect for the decisions taken and for the clubs involved, we must think about getting ready for the Final,” said Ancelotti.
The Italian coach was asked about Rodrygo’s influence and his chances of featuring in the starting XI.
“He might start, would you start him? I’m not worried, I know what he can do. This is not a game for 11 players, many more will be important and the starting lineup is one of the smallest concerns I have,” he said.
Ancelotti also revealed that his players are in good physical condition ahead of the match and that everyone will be ready.
“The whole roster is in good shape and excited about the match. Marcelo has a small physical problem but will be fine. Motivation is huge. It’s the biggest game in the world of football and the fifth Final in eight years for this club. Every single madridista is proud of this club, we now have to enjoy it and get ready for it the right way. Now we’re calm, there’s a good atmosphere. The closer we get to the game we will be more tense, but it’s normal,” he explained.
Ancelotti on the challenge posed by Liverpool
The entire press conference lasted around 40 minutes, so there was a lot of time for Ancelotti to discuss Liverpool. He started by discussing their physicality. “We’re up against one of the most physical teams in the entire world and they also have quality. The physical aspect is important but will not decide the outcome of the game,” he said.
But, Ancelotti knows this opponent well, stating: “I have faced this club a lot. Sadly, I was injured in the 1984 European Cup final [Roma vs Liverpool] and then there was the tragedy of 2005. But, I got my revenge in 2007. I also spent two years at Everton and we won a derby at Anfield again last year after 21 years. This is a club that has won six European Cups, so my AC Milan-supporting friends told me to win so they can’t match their seven!”
Going on to discuss Jurgen Klopp, the Italian said: “There are new coaches, especially from Germany, who have taken football to a new level, with intensity and pressing. I wouldn’t say I’m from the old school, but I look at these changes and it interests me. You also need to have the right players to play in such a way.”
He was also asked about Mohamed Salah and the Egyptian’s comments about wanting revenge, replying: “The last final Real Madrid lost was in Paris against Liverpool, so maybe we can view this as a chance for revenge.”
Liverpool have already won two finals on penalties this year, so the Italian was asked about this possibility. He responded: “Yes, we’ll need to prepare a list of who we think the best takers are, but you also have to check who feels comfortable in the moment. I’ve coached penalty shootouts where some players hid behind the dugout!”
Ancelotti on the journey to the Champions League Final
It has been an epic ride so far and the coach was asked about this too. “I think we have created a good atmosphere and that’s because of everyone who works here. When the players come to Valdebebas they are happy and it’s true that this has been a season where some players have made a bigger impact than others, but that happened because the atmosphere around us was clean. Those who didn’t play much also helped, they went after it in every single training session,” explained the coach.
Ancelotti said that this team will have to earn the win in the Final and that the games during the knock-out stages don’t mean that Madrid deserve the title.
“If we deserve to win it it will be because of what we do in the Final, not before. We haven’t been showing tremendous quality, but not a single team beat us in commitment and motivation. I don’t think that’s enough to win it but we will have to make sure we have that in the Final,” he added.
Discussing how to prepare for such an occasion, he joked that some members of the squad know more than him. He said: “For me, this is only my second final in eight years! There are many players who have played more, so maybe I should ask them how to prepare. It’s not easy to make sure everyone knows what he has to do on the field. Karim could explain to players like Mendy or Camavinga how to perform in this Final.”
Ancelotti on the 2021/22 season as a whole
The Italian coach shared the things that surprised him the most during this brilliant 2021/22 season. “It wasn’t the quality, but Vinicius’ consistency surprised me and also how humble players I hadn’t seen since 2014 are, because in these years they won three more Champions League trophies. Nacho, Modric, Marcelo, Kroos and Casemiro have not changed,” he said.
Asked whether the LaLiga Santander campaign or the Champions League run was more difficult, he replied: “They are two very different competitions. You can’t slip up in the Champions League, whereas you have enough chances in a league campaign to fix things.”