It wasn’t pretty, but Real Madrid earned yet another Champions League victory by scoring late goals. This time, Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio’s late strikes earned a 2-0 win at home to RB Leipzig, but the first 80 minutes were slow and Carlo Ancelotti admitted that it wasn’t much of a spectacle in the post-match press conference.
He said: “It wasn’t a fantastic match. We wanted to avoid their counters, which is their main strength, so we didn’t have too high a line or press too much in the first half. So, it wasn’t fantastic, but I can’t ask the players to play fantastic football at this stage in the season. I ask them to play intelligently. We had it fairly under control and they only got in behind us a couple of times. We wanted to win this match from our defence. We’d have liked to score earlier, but in the Champions League and against this team that is improving, and that did so well against Dortmund on the weekend, we were a little worried about this game. But, in the end, we got the win.
Ancelotti on playing without Benzema
Karim Benzema obviously wasn’t part of the team for this one, so Ancelotti was asked if the tactics and outcome would have been different with the Frenchman available. He replied: “I don’t think the tactics would have changed too much if we’d have had Benzema. We’ll evaluate him over the coming days, but we’re not going to risk him for the derby if he’s not ready.”
Ancelotti on Fede Valverde’s excellent start to the season
Fede Valverde has started 2021/22 in brilliant form and the Italian was asked if the 24-year-old is the best in the world in his position right now. He replied: “Ooft. What was strange last year was that he only scored one goal, in the Super Cup I think. If you can’t get a player like that to score at least 10 goals in a season then you should rip up your coaching badge and retire. Because he has a rock of a foot. Tonight he took the shot with his left foot. I’ve never seen him shoot like that with his left, so it shows he’s confident in his abilities, and he has a lot of abilities. He’s more than just energy. But, to say he’s best in the world in his position, we might have to wait a little longer.”
Ancelotti on Asensio’s redemption
After being so angry at not playing on Sunday that he threw his bib away and kicked a water bottle, Marco Asensio was given a chance here and he took it. On the Spaniard and his goal, Ancelotti said: “I congratulated him. He did well and, like Valverde, he was key to winning the game. Like I said yesterday, his reaction to the outburst was really good as he trained really well. He did well.”
Ancelotti on Tchouaméni’s adaptation
This was another game where Aurélien Tchouaméni just looked at home as a starter in the Real Madrid midfield. Discussing the Frenchman’s adaptation, the coach said: “He’s very intelligent and that’s it. He has things to improve, especially with the ball, but being intelligent means he can come to a team like Real Madrid and immediately do well. He’s young and asks a lot of questions. For these reasons, he’ll definitely keep improving.”
Ancelotti on Camavinga as a starter
The other French midfielder, Eduardo Camavinga, also got a start here, but didn’t look as good as when he was coming off the bench last season. Asked why this is, the coach explained: “When a match is broken and is more back and forth then his energy makes more of a difference. When a match is more positional and teams are more compact, it’s harder for him to use that energy. This is something he’ll have to learn, how to use that energy when a match is more tactically under control.”