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Ancelotti: “They say I don’t use academy players, but remember I started a 17-year-old Buffon”

The coach also previewed the Madrid Derby and praised Nacho.


Ahead of Saturday’s Madrid derby, Carlo Ancelotti previewed the game in his Friday press conference, where he spoke about what it’s like to face Atlético Madrid and where he was asked if he thinks the refereeing will be up to par, after Atleti complained about it following the Copa del Rey loss.

On that, Ancelotti said: “We have momentum after the Champions League game and now we have another special game, playing this derby against an Atlético team in good form. It’ll be a nice game, like the Copa del Rey one was. It’s a derby, so there’s a lot at stake for both teams. We’re used to facing Atlético Madrid, but it’s always special. I know we have a good referee in Gil Manzano, an international referee, who’ll know who to handle this game. I know that there’s no corruption with referees nowadays. They might make mistakes, because they’re humans, and we just have to accept it if they make mistakes.”

Ancelotti on the characteristics of Simeone

Asked about Diego Simeone and if there’s anything the two coaches could learn from each other, the Italian replied: “I like him as a person. I’d like to spend more time with him because we both love football. I don’t think there’s anything he has to learn from me, but I’d like to spend time together and I’d like to see how he works and prepares his training sessions. Maybe after the game he can tell me how he prepared for this derby, and I’ll tell him how I prepared.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid’s season so far

Analysing the season so far, Ancelotti was asked if he would have signed up for the team’s current position. To that, he replied: “No, I’d have preferred to be eight points ahead and not behind, to have won the Spanish Super Cup and to have won 5-0 at Anfield. I’m joking about that last part, but we haven’t been perfect. Still, we’ve been doing well in general. I think we are improving physically, and you can see that in the games. We have no problem if a game becomes intense. Tchouaméni and Kroos are both fine now and both could start the game.”

Ancelotti on a Tchouaméni and Camavinga double pivot

The Italian has hinted before that we could see Tchouaméni and Camavinga paired together in midfield some time soon. On this, he added: “Yes, that could happen, but I don’t know if it’ll be tomorrow. They’ll play alongside each other soon.”

Ancelotti on Nacho’s performances

Nacho has been very impressive in recent games and Ancelotti confirmed he’ll start the derby at left-back. He also discussed his contract situation. He said: “There was a point earlier this season when Nacho wasn’t happy because he wasn’t playing, even if he never complained about it. He remained professional and was ready for when he was needed. I don’t know what will happen with him next season. I hope that next season I can still see him at Valdebebas and the Bernabéu and not have to watch him on TV. Tomorrow he will play at left-back.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius’ lack of injuries

Discussing Vinícius and his physical attributes, Ancelotti spoke about how the Brazilian never suffers muscle injuries. He said: “It’s quite rare. His genetics are spectacular, so thank you to his parents! Then, he is very professional and looks after his body a lot, after training and after games. These two aspects allow him to keep playing at a high level without injuries. He works so hard. Every day he takes 10 or 15 minutes after training to improve his finishing, for example.”

Ancelotti on whether a player’s age matters

One question started off from a discussion about Sergio Ramos having his Spanish national team career ended because of age. From there, Ancelotti gave this lengthy answer: “If a player does the job, it doesn’t matter how old they are, it doesn’t matter if he’s 17 or 37. A coach has to evaluate what happens on the pitch, to see if a player can do the job. That is the job of a coach. Age shouldn’t be a reason for making such decisions. They often say I don’t use academy players, but remember that at the start of my coaching career I started a 17-year-old goalkeeper in Buffon. I didn’t do it just to play an academy player. I played him because he was better than the others. I’ve also won a Champions League with a player who was 39 at the time, with Paolo Maldini. He only trained once per week, so why did he play? Because he was better than the others.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid’s historical performance in LaLiga vs Champions League

Asked why he thinks Real Madrid have had as much as or more success in the Champions League in recent years compared to in LaLiga, the Italian said: “We all know how important the European Cup is for this club, but we also want to fight for every other title. We’ll give all our energy to win this season’s league title, like we did last season. I don’t know why Real Madrid hasn’t won so many leagues in history, but I know that right now, in this season, we’ll give our all.”

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