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Ancelotti: “I haven’t told the players the starting line-up yet”

The coach’s last pre-final press conference.

Real Madrid Training Session And Press Conference - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Real Madrid held a joint press conference on Friday evening for Carlo Ancelotti, Marcelo and Thibaut Courtois. As they looked ahead to the Champions League final against Liverpool, there was a fun moment as Ancelotti was asked if he would reveal his starting XI. He turned to Marcelo and asked the Brazilian if he knew the full line-up yet. “I think so”, Marcelo replied, before admitting he wasn’t sure. “See, I haven’t even told them yet, so I can’t tell you,” Ancelotti then said to the media.

The Italian coach then went on to discuss a number of other topics, some related to the final and others not so much.

Ancelotti on Real Madrid’s clean bill of health

Real Madrid don’t have any injuries at all, whereas Liverpool have a few concerns. Asked about this Ancelotti replied: “I remember we had some injury issues in 2014 and still won, so it’s nice to not have injury concerns this time. If the Liverpool players who have had injury concerns end up playing, it’ll mean they’re not injured, because you can’t play this game if you’re injured.”

Ancelotti on the difference between 2014 and 2022

This, of course, isn’t the Italian’s first Champions League final with Real Madrid. Asked what differences he notices in Paris compared to Lisbon, he said: “I think the motivation is the same as 2014, but there are fewer nerves. These players manage these kinds of matches very well and I think the veteran players can help the younger players. We’ve had a very very good season and we feel calm.”

Ancelotti on his record in Champions League finals

In total, Ancelotti has coached four previous Champions League finals. He won with Real Madrid in 2014 and with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007, but lost with AC Milan in 2005. On that, he said: “I remember all these previous finals and it’s hard to believe that the one where we played the best, vs Liverpool in 2005, was the only one I lost. I’m obviously not going to tell the players to play poorly to have a better chance of winning, but it shows you anything can happen. By playing well, you have a better chance of winning, but you can’t control everything in football.”

Ancelotti on the characteristics of both teams

Discussing the style of play of both sides, Ancelotti said: “This season we’ve showed collective commitment, individual quality and had players who make a difference off the bench. Liverpool will be intense and vertical. Whoever shows their quality more will win.”

Ancelotti on Karim Benzema’s evolution

Discussing Karim Benzema in the press conference, the coach said: “What Karim has improved in since my first stint is that he has more personality on and off the pitch. His quality and humility are the same as they were before.”

Ancelotti on the Sadio Mané transfer rumours

Sadio Mané has been linked with a move away from Liverpool, with some reports even placing him at Real Madrid. But, Ancelotti didn’t care for a question about the forward’s future in the press conference. He replied to it: “You’re very brave to speak about this today. I’m not here to speak about players from other teams today. I’ll just say he’s a great player.”