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Ancelotti: “This tie will be different to the final vs Liverpool, we have to be good for 180 minutes”

The coach’s pre-match thoughts from the Anfield press room.

Real Madrid Training Session and Press Conference - Anfield - Monday 20th February Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

Following Luka Modrić’s player press conference, Carlo Ancelotti also appeared in the Anfield press room on Monday evening to preview the Liverpool vs Real Madrid first leg. Speaking about this rematch with the Reds, Ancelotti said: “We’re excited and we’re keen to do as well as we did last year. But, we know this is a very tough tie. The final last year was an even game. Liverpool had more of the ball, but we were solid at the back. We know it’ll be intense and they won’t give you time to breathe. This tie is different to the final, though, because it’s a two-legged tie. We have to be good for the 180 minutes.”

Ancelotti on the absences of Kroos and Tchouaméni

Both Toni Kroos and Aurélien Tchouaméni are absent for this game and haven’t travelled to Liverpool. Discussing how to replace them, and if this means Fede Valverde will drop back into midfield, Ancelotti said: “The players who have replaced Kroos and Tchouaméni in the most recent games have done well, so we have confidence in them. My doubt is over whether to opt for being more solid at the back or for being stronger in attack. I’m still thinking about it.”

Ancelotti on the return of Benzema

After sitting out the Osasuna trip with fatigue, Karim Benzema is back. On the striker, Ancelotti said: “He’s doing well and he’ll start tomorrow’s match. Like the rest of us, he is motivated to return to the Champions League.”

Ancelotti on Modrić performances

With absences in midfield, Luka Modrić may need to play an important role and the coach praised the Croatian, stating: “Modrić has shown in the past and keeps showing now how good he is. I think he is back to his best, after not having the best January. His physical condition is really good.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius playing outside of Spain

Finally, Ancelotti was asked if he thinks Vinícius will thrive at Anfield because he’ll be playing outside of Spain, but he pushed back on that a little. The coach was also asked if he thinks Spain needs to change its laws on the punishments for racist abuse to avoid players leaving for other leagues. Discussing all of that, he said: “Vinícius likes to play football, no matter where it is. It’s a joy to watch Vinícius right now because of his quality, just like it’s a joy to watch players like Pedri, Gavi, Mbappé, Haaland. We should enjoy watching him, for his quality. The issue of racism is very serious and complicated. I don’t think it can be changed by laws, as that can’t change that thinking that exists in someone’s head. It’s about changing the culture and common sense, but I don’t want to just blame Spain for this because incidents like this happen in all countries. Spain is a great place to live and I don’t think anybody is planning to leave this country that is great to live in in every sense.”

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