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Ancelotti: “Kepa is training well, but Lunin will start against Almería”

The coach revealed his thinking on the goalkeeping situation at the club

Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Before Real Madrid’s first away match of the 2023/24 season, coach Carlo Ancelotti attended his usual pre-match press conference. Following the signing of Kepa, Carlo Ancelotti has decisions to make in goal to choose between his new arrival and Andriy Lunin, who started against Athletic. The Ukrainian is set to keep his place for now, as Ancelotti said: “Kepa is adapting and training well, but tomorrow we will continue with Lunin. In the next few games, we’ll see.”

Ancelotti on rotating goalkeepers

Despite that clarity regarding Saturday’s fixture, Real Madrid continue to consider their options and Ancelotti is clear that he will need to make a decision on a first choice shotstopper. The coach paused for thought but responded: “I don’t know, I think that the truth is that Kepa is already at a very high level, he’s young but he’s an experienced international, and Lunin lacks a bit of that experience in that sense, which is normal for a young player. We are not going to have rotations when we have a game every three days. They are both very good, but one will have more minutes than the other.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius’ exclusion from UEFA’s player of the year awards

Another of the big talking points this week was the news that UEFA had left Vinícius Júnior out of the top 10 of their Player of the Year award. It was a decision that Ancelotti appeared confused by as he responded: “For me Vinicius is one of the best, if not the best and this is more than enough. Nothing surprises me anymore. No, I don’t [have any explanation]. I’m not too worried, Vinicius neither, we know what he has contributed and I think that he has made the difference over the last three years. He has made great progress and now he just needs to find consistency. I think it’s quite strange, but it’s not so important.”

Ancelotti on signings in defence

One new name in the first-team set-up this week has been central defender Marvel, who has stepped up from Castilla following injury to Éder Militão. Ancelotti made clear that it shows the strategy he will follow to handle the Brazilian’s absence: “We are well covered in that position. We have several players with experience, like Nacho, Rüdiger and Alaba. Then we have players from the academy, this week Marvel, and others who are progressing well, Carrillo, Asensio, Pablo Ramón, so if we need a fourth central defender until Militão is back, we’ll use one of the young players.”

Ancelotti on Almería

This Saturday, Ancelotti’s team will take on Almería in a fixture which proved to be tougher than expected last season. The Italian is expecting a challenging test as he said: “They are a team who are very well organised. It will be an entertaining match. They are not a team that shuts up shop at the back. We want to repeat the performance we gave in Bilbao.”

Ancelotti on Camavinga’s injury

One player who is crucial to Real Madrid’s hope of victory is Eduardo Camavinga, who was absent from training on Friday. The coach explained: “After yesterday’s training he had a little strain, so today we didn’t take the risk training but we will evaluate him tomorrow and he is in the squad. If he’s okay, he will play tomorrow.”

Ancelotti on Camavinga reaching 100 games against Athletic

The French midfielder reached the landmark of 100 appearances for Real Madrid against Athletic Club last weekend, and the coach spoke about his hopes for the future: “I think he can improve his threat on goal, it’s an aspect we’re working on to improve. He’s improved in a lot of areas and all he needs now is to threaten the opposition goal more, he’s only scored one goal.”

Ancelotti on the recent ACL injuries

After two anterior cruciate ligament injuries in a week as the season started, Real Madrid have looked at what caused the injuries but Ancelotti admitted that there was little indication that either injury could have been prevented: “It’s very difficult and complicated to say. A knee injury can be caused by many things and that’s what we’re looking at. Militão was very good physically, so was Courtois. Sometimes we see that players are out of balance in terms of strength but that wasn’t the case for either, I think it was a case of bad luck.”

Ancelotti on Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić

Given the decision to leave both Toni Kroos and Modrić out of the line-up against Athletic Club, Ancelotti was asked about how the experienced pair were doing. He said: “They’re both very good. They’ve trained very well and it’s been fantastic to have a full week to work, quite unusual for us, and they’re ready to play.”

Ancelotti on the fixture list

Following harsh criticism of the authorities from Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola this week, Ancelotti stated his agreement on the intensity of the schedule: “How could I not agree with Guardiola? I completely agree with Guardiola. They try to increase the show with more games, they are putting more focus on quantity than quality, and it should be quality over quantity. The coaches don’t have any influence and neither do the players. They see that football is not entertaining and they put in a lot to make more money. The ones affected are the players and they suffer more injuries and can’t offer the same quality.”

Ancelotti on LaLiga’s new television features

The first matchday saw LaLiga offering new features for television coverage, including footage inside dressing rooms, but Real Madrid did not participate. Ancelotti was asked about his thoughts on the topic and said: “I think that Real Madrid has their right against LaLiga, the court has proven that. For me the dressing room is sacred, putting a camera in there before a game doesn’t make any sense.”

Ancelotti on Ansu Fati

Questioned on the availability of the Barcelona forward and the vacant number nine shirt at Real Madrid, Ancelotti responded: “All I can say is that Ansu Fati is a young player with a lot of talent, he’ll have a great future and that’s all.”

Ancelotti on Saudi Arabia

Ancelotti was also asked about the latest activities of Saudi Arabia in the transfer market and the money being invested by clubs there. He said: “Saudi Arabia are putting a lot of money into improving their league and they have the right to do so, within the rules of financial fair play.”

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