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Ancelotti: “Fifth favourites? That’s good, we were given even less of a shot last season”

The coach’s first Champions League press conference of the new season.

Real Madrid Training Session And Press Conference Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Ahead of Real Madrid’s Champions League opener against Celtic, Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media on Monday. He did so after Vinícius’ player press conference and the coach previewed the opponent, reacting to the fact that their coach Ange Postecoglou has insisted they’ll maintain their usual gung-ho style.

Ancelotti stated: “Of course it’ll be a difficult match. Celtic, like us, are on a good run of form. They play with a lot of intensity, so yes, I think it’ll be tough. But, we’re prepared and ready to start this group well. I know that Celtic won’t change their attacking style and attitude. It’s normal at their home. But, we’re not worried because we defend well. That was key to our victory last season because a team has to be able to attack well and defend well.”

Ancelotti on his Celtic Park record

Ancelotti took AC Milan to Celtic Park three times earlier in his career, but didn’t win on any occasion, with goalless draws in 2004/05 and 2006/07 before a 2-1 defeat in 2007/08. Asked about that, he said: “It’s true, it has been a very difficult stadium for me and my teams in the past. I don’t have a clear memory of this [he’s right, because the next part isn’t accurate at all], but we played against Celtic one time in the group and one time in the last 16. We drew 0-0, we lost 1-0 here, but then we were able to win 3-2 in Milan in extra time. Given the fact that I love this sport, I love that my team can play in this atmosphere.”

Ancelotti on rotations

Asked if lesser-used players will be given a chance to start Tuesday’s game, his reply was: “Yes, maybe. But, it depends what you mean by a lesser-used players. I don’t know who the lesser-used players are yet.”

Ancelotti on whether this is an easy group

Asked about the fact that many are labelling Group F as one of the easier groups, the coach said: “No, it’s not an easy group. Celtic are doing very well and we have to respect that. We have to respect the RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk too. Remember that last year we lost at home to Sheriff. So, we respect this group, which I think will be quite an easily balanced group.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid being ranked as fifth favourites

Real Madrid were seventh in the bookmakers’ Champions League rankings this time last year and now they’re fifth. Asked if he is surprised at Real Madrid being again underestimated, Ancelotti replied: “I’m not surprised about that. I think it’s a good sign because we were given even less of a shot last season, so we’ve climbed up. Real Madrid have always been and always will be respected in this competition, not just because of last season but because of the history of the club in this tournament. But, you never know what will happen. We just have to think about this group and winning it, then we’ll see what happens after the World Cup. Then, the big question is what condition the players will be in when they come back. We don’t know the answer to that.”

Ancelotti on Modrić’s longevity

Luka Modrić and his longevity was brought up and the Italian was asked if he could explain it, to which he replied: “There is no explanation. He’s a fantastic player with fantastic qualities. He has been lucky not to have big injuries in his career and this can help him remain one of the best midfielders in Europe, even as he prepares to celebrate his 37th birthday with a big party. I hope to be invited!”

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