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Ancelotti: “I always think that each final could be the last”

The Real Madrid coach previewed Saturday’s Copa del Rey final

Real Madrid Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti was in fine form in his pre-match press conference before taking on Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final, speaking to the media before leading his team in their final training session on Friday evening, ahead of Saturday’s game at La Cartuja.

When asked about the occasion, the Italian showed a sentimental side that caught the attention of the media in the press room as he said: “Playing a final is always exciting, I always think personally that each final could be my last. I thought it in 2003 and I think it today, so I want to enjoy it and enjoy this moment. Finals are special games with all the hope and excitement, we are very happy to be here and have earned this, winning complicated games, against Cacereño, Villarreal, going to Camp Nou.”

He then went on to add that his players were fully focused on the task at hand with the Copa del Rey, forgetting about Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final against Manchester City, as he added: “Tomorrow we will go out without thinking about anything else. The players think the same. We are focused on this game, which will be very demanding.”

The coach also highlighted what this title could mean for Real Madrid: “Tomorrow we could win everything in two seasons that it is possible to win, this is a last effort to try to achieve that.”

Ancelotti on Luka Modrić’s fitness

Given his recent absence given a muscle injury, Ancelotti seemed optimistic on his chances of playing: “Luka, well, it’s a doubt we have. Yesterday he trained well, today we will see and then we will look at his case, if he wants to play, he could play. The feelings after yesterday are good and we’ll see after training.”

When pushed further, Ancelotti added: “if the player doesn’t feel comfortable, we won’t risk him. If he’s good, he’ll play.”

Ancelotti was also asked about the fitness of David Alaba, who is back available after a spell on the sidelines. He said: “It’s a topic that we are evaluating this week. He’s in good shape in training and his data is good, so we don’t think that he’s taking a risk but in football you can never be 100% even when a muscle injury is 100% focused.”

Ancelotti on Osasuna

Jagoba Arrasate’s team are the opponents, as Ancelotti predicted making a comment to the coach on the touchline at El Sadar before the two teams met in LaLiga, and the coach recalled that moment when asked about his opponent on Saturday. He explained: “It’s a final which I said to Jagoba because I knew it. It’s a strong rival, who have a very important game for them. We think the game will be difficult and complicated and we will have to manage those difficult moments of the game.”

Ancelotti on his team selection headache

With several players coming into the team throughout the competition at different rounds, and a big European clash only days later, the media pushed the coach on who could be involved in his team selection. He reflected on that point by saying that: “Choosing a team for a final is quite complicated. We’ve got here with the commitment of many players, I remember the comeback against Villarreal, when Asensio and Ceballos started and decided the tie. There are some players who have been very important.”

Ancelotti on celebrations

Given the impending tie with Manchester City, journalists pushed Ancelotti on if there would be any limits to celebrations should Real Madrid win the Copa del Rey. However, the Italian was having none of it, responding: “Why wouldn’t we celebrate? If you win, you have to celebrate. We’d like to celebrate with our fans, who are waiting to celebrate. Napoli are celebrating after 33 years, and it’s spectacular. I hope we can do that too and celebrate winning a title. If we win, we will celebrate.”

Ancelotti on his future

One topic that did visibly frustrate the coach was when he was asked about how the next two games could impact his future. He responded bluntly, saying: “What am I playing for in the next 11 days? The Copa del Rey final and a semi-final. Nothing else. I’m not playing for my life. This is an important game, we’re playing for a title, then we’ll prepare for a semi-final. After that, whatever happens, there will be talk about my future but my future is clear, my contract goes to 2024, not tomorrow.”

“Talking about this today, I don’t think it’s coherent. I talk to the president every day and I think that’s enough. I’m not thinking about it, I’m thinking about a final and a semi-final and I’d like to win both.”

Ancelotti on refereeing and red cards

Ancelotti was also asked about referees and José María Sánchez Martínez, who will take charge of the final, after he said that the high number of red cards were to protect players earlier on Friday. Ancelotti highlighted: “The red cards is an important topic, I think that there are too many, I don’t think red cards are always to protect the players’ health, I think some are mistakes. But we won’t think about that, it will be an even game against a strong team who deserve to be in the final. Each team has to do their own thing with fair play and it will be the same for referees too. We hope it’s a perfect game for everyone.”

Ancelotti on a challenging few days

With two such important games coming up within 72 hours, Ancelotti spoke about the importance of rest by reflecting: “I think the mental aspect is very important. Three days in football is not very many especially with the travel and that’s why we are staying here tomorrow night. Mentally, these are games where you don’t need to push your players, they’ve been thinking about this for some time. The motivation is already there.”

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