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Ancelotti: “The issue of racism is bigger than LaLiga, Vinícius or sanctions, it’s societal and we need zero tolerance”

Covered various topics in the press conference held before the Cacereño trip.

Real Valladolid CF v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Following a rare open training session, Carlo Ancelotti then spoke to the media at Valdebebas during a Copa del Rey press conference. The coach was previewing the Tuesday night trip to Cacereño and revealed that several usual starters won’t feature.

He stated: “Courtois and Carvajal have slight issues and won’t play in this game, although they’ll be back for the Villarreal trip on the weekend. I also won’t give minutes to Kroos, Alaba, Benzema, Vinícius or Mendy, but the others are available and we’ll try to play as well as we can. We’ll also have Sergio Arribas, Nico Paz, Marvel and Álvaro Rodríguez from Castilla. Even beyond these four, there are many other players coming out of Castilla. Raúl is doing a good job.”

Analysing the clash with the lower league opposition further, Ancelotti added: “Tomorrow’s game is one where we’ll have to be intelligent. You can’t just win these types of games with quality. The Copa del Rey is a competition where we need to have quality, commitment and fight. Is it the most important competition for us? No, the most important for us is the Champions League. But, we try to win every competition we’re in.”

Ancelotti on the bus journey to Cacereño

With Cacereño having limited transport links, Real Madrid will travel the 250 kilometres by bus. Los Blancos haven’t taken the bus for a game outside the Community of Madrid since 2017, so Ancelotti was asked if he was worried this would affect the players. But, he sounded excited, replying: “I have no problem with it. I like to go by bus as I can see more of the country. I know Italy, but don’t know the countryside of Spain as much. It’s time to see more of it.”

Ancelotti on the open training session

Discussing Monday’s training session, which allowed fans to see their heroes up close, Ancelotti said: “There was a good atmosphere. We only have an open training session like this once a year, because of security reasons, but I like when we do this. The players like it to.”

Ancelotti on tiredness vs rustiness

The squad is in a strange state right now, with some players fatigued and others almost too well rested. On managing this balance, the coach said: “We have all the data to manage it well. The coaches, fitness staff and doctors are all working together to deal with this. With each game, the players’ condition should improve.”

Ancelotti on the racist insults towards Vinícius

The coach was also asked about the latest racist insults against Vinícius and had this to say: “Racism shouldn’t exist. Xenophobia shouldn’t exist. That’s quite clear to me. To pin this on Vinícius would be a mistake. It’s a problem of society. We need there to be zero tolerance with this. The problem isn’t with LaLiga or with sanctions, it’s a general cultural and societal problem. For me, many people aren’t educated enough about this important issue as they should be. This issue of racism is something bigger than LaLiga, Vinícius or sanctions. Racism and xenophobia are very serious issues.”

Ancelotti on Kroos’ future

Asked if he can envisage Toni Kroos retiring when his contract expires at the end of this season, the Italian responded: “As a football fan, it’s impossible to think Kroos will stop playing. I hope he’ll continue. His future should become clear in a month or so. But, each negotiation is between the player and the club. The players remain focused on playing. It’s becoming more and more common for players to have contracts that are running out.”

Ancelotti on his hopes for 2023

Finally, Ancelotti offered a message to the fans for his hopes for the new year. He said: “I don’t know what will happen in 2023, but I hope it’ll be good like 2022. I don’t know if what we did last year can be repeated, but perhaps we could even improve on it.”

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