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Ancelotti: “The spirit of the Real Madrid jersey allows us to believe until the end”

He spoke to the press after the 1-0 win over Union Berlin

Real Madrid v Union Berlin - UEFA Champions League Photo by David S.Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke after his team’s late win over Union Berlin to kick start their Champions League campaign, highlighting “could we have scored earlier? Yes, but I think scoring in the last minute is important, it reflects the spirit of this jersey which allows us to believe until the end. If it had been a draw I would have said the same, the team gave their all until the end.”

Ancelotti on the match

Ancelotti was keen to praise his rivals and Union Berlin for their performance and strong defensive display. The coach said, “the game has been a game we expected to be like this, complicated with a lot of control against a low block from Union Berlin, who defended well and left us space to try and find gaps between the lines.”

Ancelotti on the game plan

The Italian insisted that the match followed the plan that he had drawn out for this match, identifying what could go wrong and praising his defence. He explained, “the idea was to be patient, we were, but not too much. There are games like this, which can be a trap, like Sheriff when we lost at home in the second game of the season of the 14th. We defended the counter, Rüdiger was outstanding, and at the back we defended well and there was no danger.”

Ancelotti on Jude Bellingham

The match winner was Jude Bellingham, and Ancelotti praised not just his quality, but his persistence, saying, “Bellingham has quality, but he also has luck. It was a similar goal to Getafe with a deflection and he arrived from the second line and he has an extraordinary talent which he took advantage of.”

Ancelotti on half-time changes

Asked about whether he was angry at half-time, Ancelotti insisted that he was not and that the team adapted slightly to adjust their display. He said, “we fixed a few things, it was quite simple. The second half was better because we played against a team that wasn’t pressing and they need a lot of energy to defend and deny us space, so in the second half we found more space. The good thing is that we came back with the goal in the last minute. Union Berlin score a lot of goals from set pieces, they’re very good in the air and with second balls, and we handled that well.”

Ancelotti on Rodrygo

One player who struggled at times was Rodrygo, who saw several chances go missing. Ancelotti spoke about what went wrong for him, analysing that “this was a very difficult game for Rodrygo, he’s very good in open spaces and in the last two games he has had very little space against defences which have shut down and he’s found it more difficult. Today he had bad luck, he could have scored on two or three occasions.”

Ancelotti on his squad

With changes made to the team, Ancelotti praised the depth of his squad again. He said, “what I think today is what I thought before the first game, that we have a competitive squad and we can compete in every competition. Today I thought we could get a draw but it doesn’t change anything, I think the squad was very competitive.”

Ancelotti on Vinícius Júnior

When asked about whether his team missed their star forward, Ancelotti addressed the absence of the Brazilian and also gave a time scale for his return. “Vinícius... I think that he’s one of the best strikers in the world so of course, we miss him. With Vinícius we have something else. But today Joselu could have scored and was very good in the air, Vinícius less so. We hope to have him back next Wednesday and maybe on Sunday.”

Ancelotti on Joselu

One of the men involved throughout was forward Joselu, who Ancelotti was keen to paise. He analysed, “I think it’s quite clear that Joselu improves our aerial play. We are more dangerous than before. It’s not just Joselu, Bellingham comes from the second line and when we put crosses into the box, something can happen. In the opening minutes, a header just wide, in the second half against the post. In the air we are dangerous.”

Ancelotti on a changing of the guard

With Toni Kroos and Luka Modric among the better players on the night, Ancelotti was questioned on whether that makes his life more difficult to rotate. He responded that “it’s a topic which, I wouldn’t say complicated, but good. If you have very good midfielders, I can’t think that one midfielder should stay on the bench for four or five games in a row, that doesn’t make sense. Everyone can add something, whether it’s from the start or in the second half. I don’t think it’s so easy for players to understand that they don’t start, but they can add something in the second half from the bench, against a rival who is more tired and they can offer more.”

Ancelotti on the tag of favourites

Asked about comments from his players about being favourites, Ancelotti reacted, “I think saying ‘we are favourites’ or ‘we are not favourites’ doesn’t add anything. Saying it doesn’t add anything or take anything away, so it’s better to think about other things.”

Ancelotti on Brahim Díaz

One player who remained on the bench until the end was playmaker Brahim Díaz, and Ancelotti explained that by saying “he’s one of the players affected by the first part of the season, even if he’s playing five or ten minutes, he’s adding something. Our idea is to give him minutes so he can add.”

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