17 August 2013
Carlo Ancelotti appeared before the media at the press conference in the Real Madrid Football City on the eve of the official kick-off of Real Madrid against Betis. The Italian manager analysed the meeting and talked about how it would feel for him to take to the bench for the first time at the Santiago Bernabéu: “In Real Madrid, it is not enough to win; you have to play well and in an offensive way. The team have performed well, showing quality in pre-season and I am hopeful that we will see the same against Betis: playing well and winning. I am looking forward to making my home debut on the bench at the Santiago Bernabéu. It will be a special moment in my career. This stadium has always got behind the team and all the players. If the team play well, the Bernabéu will always get behind them. The atmosphere inside the ground is always very good and if the team play well, there won't be a problem".
The manager of the Whites also talked about his philosophy and the importance of pressing the ball high up the pitch: “The principles of our play are offensive. My experience in other teams was the same because the clubs I have been at demand nothing less. I want the players to be comfortable and that's why it is important to have a system of play in which the players feel at ease. It is better to press up the pitch because the idea is not to counter-attack but to play football and have possession of the ball. We have players with unbelievable quality".
When asked about the niggles picked up by Pepe, Xabi Alonso and Varane, Ancelotti stated: “Xabi Alonso is still not ready although he is close to playing his first game and it may come on Thursday in the Bernabéu Trophy. Pepe picked up a knock on international duty, a niggle, but he has trained well and he will play. Varane is working alone to strengthen his knee and prevent any future knee problems. He has to carry out a specific programme and he still has six days left of his individual programme and he will then start to kick a ball with the team". And about his right-back for the game against Betis, he said: “I haven't made my mind up yet. Arbeloa played for the national side and has made it this far, while Carvajal has trained well this week and he has the slight edge between the two”.
Concerning the squad that he coaches and the need to bring in reinforcements, he was clear as he said: “I am very pleased with the team because there is a good balance between experience and youth. There is a lot of enthusiasm and a very good atmosphere. We haven't played any official games and after that any player that doesn't play can change his attitude, but I am not concerned in any way. A manager always has to be aware because there are always problems throughout a season. It is normal that problems arise, but when a team is united, problems resolve themselves quickly and I think that we will be united all season". Regarding the possible arrival of Bale, he said: "Great players make a team strong. Nobody has asked for number 11 and that's why it is free”.
When questioned about who will play in goal for Real Madrid in the first official game of the season, the Italian manager indicated: "I will decide that tomorrow. I won't give you the starting eleven because I still haven't spoken to the players and I prefer to give it to them first. It will be a competitive team. Diego López started work before Casillas, but a goalkeeper's physical condition is not so important. Both have worked very hard. Iker played really well against Chelsea and Diego was excellent against Inter. It's not an easy decision for me. The most difficult thing about my job is making these decisions. They are two players who work hard and they are professional in their approach. Small details, which are difficult to explain, will influence my decision in favour of either of them".
Ancelotti also spoke about another two individuals: Jesé and Benzema. About the youth team product, he asserted: “He is doing well and he has displayed a lot of quality this pre-season. He joined pre-season late given his participation with the national team. I don't know if he will play tomorrow, but this season will be important. He needs to improve but he is a great talent". About the Frenchman, he said: “I know he is training well and I am happy with his work. I hope that he scores a lot of goals for Real Madrid”.
Ancelotti also spoke about the possibility that one or two players may leave his squad: “Coentrão has asked to leave, but he won't be playing tomorrow. Nothing more to add on that matter. All the others are happy to be here with us”. When asked whether the team would meet up the day before the game or on the day of the game itself, he said: “We are not meeting up today because we play tomorrow at 9 p.m. It is enough for us to eat together to prepare for the game”.
Lastly, and with respect to the Spanish league, he said: “It will be a competitive league. It is true that both Real Madrid and Barcelona are two very strong teams who have players with a lot of quality, but there are also other teams such as Atlético who have a good team and play with a lot of quality”.