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Ancelotti: “I don’t have freedom of expression when talking about referees”

Monday’s press conference was dominated by questions about the officials.


Real Madrid face Braga in the Champions League on Tuesday and Carlo Ancelotti previewed the game in a press conference on Monday, shortly after the squad landed in Portugal. He said: “It would be good to make it three wins in a row and take a major step towards progressing from the group. We’re playing a good football team, who can control games well and attack well. The important thing for us will be to defend well. We feel confident, but we have to respect the opponent.”

Ancelotti on the referees

The press conference was dominated by multiple questions about the state of Spanish refereeing. The first was about whether he feels he can trust the Spanish referees and about the constant RMTV videos, to which he said: “I trust the referees as a general rule, sometimes a bit more and sometimes a bit less. With the videos, they have freedom of expression so they can say what they want. I have to focus on my team and leave the refereeing to the referees. The truth is that it’s a quite special moment in Spanish football in this sense, as we all know, because until things are cleared up we may always have this problem.”

Asked if he thinks there are some referees who set out to rule against Real Madrid, he replied: “You know I don’t have freedom of expression when it comes to talking about referees. Like I said on Saturday, if I say what I think then I get suspended. I don’t want to be suspended. So, I can’t answer this kind of question.”

On differences in refereeing style in LaLiga and the Champions League, the coach pointed out that it can never be the same. He explained: “I think the refereeing in Europe has a different kind of pressure. I think there is a different kind of pressure for referees officiating in their domestic league compared to in Europe. The Spanish referee who referees in Spain then lives in Spain. The English referee who referees in Portugal then flies back to England. It’s different.”

The next refereeing question was about acting RFEF president Pedro Rocha, who claimed that Spanish referees are the best in the world. On this, Ancelotti commented: “It’s the same as if you ask me about the best players in the world and I’ll say they’re Real Madrid players.”

There was also an interesting moment at the end of the press conference when the coach stood up to leave after the final question. Clearly frustrated by all the questions about refereeing, he said: “I would have announced the entire starting XI if anyone had asked, but a shame none of you did.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid being more successful in Europe than in LaLiga

The coach was asked why he thinks Real Madrid have won more Champions League trophies than LaLiga titles in the past 12 years, with five compared to four. To that, he said: “I don’t know. It’s an interesting stat, but we have to look forward and not to the past. We know that this competition is very important for the club and we place great importance on it. It’s the competition we like the most, the club, players and coaches. It’s a special tournament for us.”

Ancelotti on whether the Clásico might be a distraction

With the Clásico coming up on Saturday, the coach was asked if that might be a distraction. He stated: “I’m not thinking about rotations, but that doesn’t mean we’ll have the same 11 players as Saturday. There are a few situations to consider, like Alaba and Mendy being recently back from injury, Nacho being available again or some players needing rest. We’re not thinking about the weekend’s game. We’re focused on this game. For the moment, that’s the most important match for us.”

Ancelotti on Pelé vs Messi and Ronaldo

There was also a fairly random question at the end of the press conference, when Ancelotti was asked who’d have won the most Ballon d’Or prizes if Pelé had been playing at the same time as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He replied: “Who knows? The good thing about football is there are different generations. You have Pele, Maradona, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s impossible to compare these geniuses. Pele had a spectacular legacy, just like many others.”

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