Ancelotti: "The team is solid, professional, motivated and the atmosphere is good"

"We're playing against a strong, quality team who play high intensity football,” said the coach.

Ancelotti: "The team is solid, professional, motivated and the atmosphere is good"

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the press at the RB Arena on the eve of the clash between Leipzig and Real Madrid, the first leg of the Champions League last 16 (9pm CET). The Italian analysed the tie ahead: “We go into the game on a good run and we're enjoying good momentum. The team is excited and well up for it. The Champions League is back, and it’s a competition we really like and we're playing against a strong, quality team who play high intensity football. We have to put on a complete performance, especially defensively, and offensively, where we have the quality.”
The best season of his career?
“I don’t know if it’s the best. In terms of runs, perhaps. Never during all this time have my teams only lost two games. The team is solid, professional, motivated and the atmosphere is good. Everyone is contributing and not complaining. We’ll see what happens. We've reached this point in the season in good shape with all the difficulties we've had. We've managed to overcome them thanks to the character of the players.”

On Vini Jr.
“If he’s capable of playing like he did against Girona, he will make a difference. With assists and consistency. He is a player of great quality and who plays with a lot of intensity and pace and his dribbling, because of the way he does things consistently for 90 minutes. There are many players who drop off in the second half. That's where Vini Jr. excels the most for me.”

"It’s hard to say if it’s his best season. It’s always the best one. His passing percentages today are the same as they were 10 years ago and when he was at Bayern. His quality hasn't changed, he’s always got it. He stands out more because he's playing with a team with a lot of energy and his quality in handling possession and tempo of the game makes him excel. The younger players have incredible energy, but he’s feeling good.”

On how he remains as hungry as ever?
“The motivation comes from the fact that I like what I do and where I do it. I like the squad and the players I have. There’s the motivation. For Madrid fans, the Champions League is the most important competition and the one where Real Madrid has been most successful. We’re try to do the same this season. We're going to compete and battle. I don't know if we're going to win because nobody can know. Tomorrow will be a tough and difficult match against a strong team.”

“We never think of those who aren't here. It's fair to think about those who are there. We have to think that Bellingham isn't here, but we've won 4 out of 4 games without him. Those who have replaced him have done very well, like Brahim or Joselu. He's a very important player, like Courtois and Militão, but I think this has been an opportunity to get more motivated.”

In goal
“I'm clear about it, you'll know tomorrow.”

On Kroos’s future
“It's his decision and you have to respect it. You have to finish at the top, but he has to choose the right time. For Kroos, this year could be the peak, but it could also be next year because his level of performance since he started playing has always been the same. The biggest motivation isn't trophies or money, it's playing football. Kroos loves playing football, he's very good at it and he's very respected. As long as he keeps this, he can go on.”
Changes in players’ positions
“Convincing the players is very important. When you talk to them you can understand whether or not they want to play in this position. Most of them have told me that they have no problem because they take into account the team's difficulties and they want to contribute. I'm not going to pick a player who doesn't like to play in a position. I will never force things, but I will try to convince them. We have other options that I have to take into account. Leipzig are very strong on set pieces and for Brahim this isn't his best quality, he's not a giant. Carvajal as a centre-back has played very well. I have to think about it.”

The threat from Leipzig
“I'm very worried about the match. Concern is an important aspect of preparing for the game. One of the most important things is that they've scored 26 goals out of transition. On the break they're a formidable team, with extremely fast forwards with great quality. You know Olmo very well, but all four of them are very good.”

On Kroos’s potential return to the national team
“The European Championship is an important competition and playing for Germany again could be good for him. We will respect his decision.”

Generational transition
“It's a natural transition, we don't have to push it. Some legends have departed and others are staying. It's all down to a lack of ego from the veterans, which has allowed the youngsters to adapt well to this squad and to this club."