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Ancelotti: “Everyone puts pressure on Vinícius, from opponents to fans to referees”

The coach’s post-match press conference in Bilbao.

Athletic de Bilbao v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid earned an impressive 2-0 victory away at Athletic Club on Sunday night and they did so with a line-up featuring several players who hadn’t started much during the first half of the season. Asked to explain these rotations, Ancelotti said in his post-match press conference: “I don’t think it was a risk. I think it was a point in the season to have more players motivated. Ceballos and Asensio did well against Villarreal and deserved an opportunity. Toni Kroos had played a lot of games and maybe some rest will help him. Luka Modrić could have played, but I decided to go with something else. The players who hadn’t been playing as much are now contributing a lot, like Nacho, Asensio, Camavinga…”

Ancelotti on whether Real Madrid can have a B unit

Asked if he feels the squad is deep enough to have a B unit like Real Madrid did under Zinedine Zidane in 2016/17, the coach replied: There’s no Plan A or Plan B, the plan is to win matches.”

Ancelotti on Nacho improving the defence

Ancelotti was delighted to have a clean sheet in this game and spoke about the defensive performance and how important Nacho was in this. He said: “We defended very well, which we hadn’t been doing in recent games. It’s never easy here in Bilbao when you play Athletic, where the atmosphere is spectacular, but we did well and managed the game well. Maybe scoring early helped us to have a compact defensive block. Nacho can play right-back, centre-back or left-back and he always performs. He is an exemplary professional. Every coach wants to have a player like Nacho in their team.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius

This was another game in which Vinícius was involved in extracurricular conflicts and Ancelotti was asked about the Brazilian’s attitude. He launched a very strong defence of the player, saying: “Vinícius is a great player and he is a very sensible person. I spoke to him to tell him to focus on the game. Everyone puts pressure on him, from opponents to the fans to the referees. It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s true that there are moments where he loses focus a little. I told him that if he needs to speak then to speak to me. He still needs to improve in this, but he’s very young. I love him. I think he deserves a little more respect from everyone.”

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