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Ancelotti: “Eight months into the season, I still don’t know the starting line-up”

All the quotes from the coach’s pre-Clásico press conference.

Real Madrid CF v Atletico de Madrid - LaLiga Santander Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Ahead of the first leg of the Copa del Rey Clásico, Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media on Wednesday and previewed the game, that will take place at the Bernabéu on Thursday night. He said: “This is the most important stretch of the season and these are the nicest games for players to play, with a final within reach. The Copa del Rey may not be the most important competition in the first few rounds, but it becomes very important once you reach the semi-finals. It’s important to have courage in this kind of game. We need to be complete in attack and defence. We lacked a lot in the last Clásico and there were individual errors too. But, I don’t think this will happen again because we’re going to compete in this game and aim to take the advantage in the tie. We want to win because we’re close to winning a title, not because of any kind of revenge for the Super Cup.”

Ancelotti on his midfield for the Clásico

The coach was asked several questions about his starting XI and, apart from revealing that a decision still hasn’t been taken on Rodrygo, most of the talk was about the midfield. The coach said: “We’re eight months into the season and I still don’t know who the 11 players of the starting line-up should be. You’ll see tomorrow if Kroos or Modrić are left out. You need many things for these kinds of matches, such as energy, personality and control of the ball. If Kroos doesn’t start, that would be because of energy, because obviously he doesn’t lack personality or control of the ball. We’ve got Tchouaméni doing well after returning to fitness and Camavinga is doing really well too. It’s good for us to have two players at such a high level.”

Ancelotti on the refereeing

The coach was asked about the refereeing and if what he thinks of the fact that this will be the first Clásico since the Negreira revelations. He replied: “As I have said before, right now I don’t believe there is any corruption. I don’t know who the referee is, but he’ll try to do his best.”

Ancelotti on The Best awards

The Best awards were brought up in this press conference and Ancelotti was asked if he was surprised at the lack of prizes for Real Madrid’s stars, asked who his top three players would be and asked what he thought of Benzema’s Instagram post. The Italian replied: “We’re not too worried about these prizes. This year’s awards took the Word Cup into account a lot, so it’s normal that Messi, Martínez and Scaloni won those prizes. I congratulate them. I can’t say my top three because I have a conflict of interest, but they would all be Real Madrid players of course. I haven’t seen Benzema’s post, but we know how much he helped us win last season’s titles and we hope he can help us win titles this season too.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius vs Araújo

The coach was asked if there is over-dependence on Vinícius right now and how he thinks the duel with Ronald Araújo will go. He replied: “It’s normal to depend on Vinícius a lot, as he is one of the best players in the world right now. Araújo is a very good defender and that’ll be an entertaining duel. Obviously, I hope Vinícius wins that duel.”

Ancelotti on Hazard’s chances of finally playing a Clásico

Eden Hazard has still never taken part in a single minute of a Clásico. When that was put to the coach, he replied: “Hazard is fine and is training well. He wants minutes and I hope he can have them soon.”

Ancelotti on Rüdiger’s performances

Discussing Antonio Rüdiger and his improvement as he has earned more minutes in the team, the coach said: “Rüdiger is always focused and I think he has improved a lot, though I think he can get even better on the ball. The team has been really solid with him and Militão, during this period when we haven’t had Alaba.”

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