NEWS STORY. 18/10/2021. Alberto Navarro
Carlo Ancelotti took to the media room at at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium in the build-up to Real Madrid’s Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk (Tuesday, 9pm CET) and previewed the contest in the following terms: “It has been a good period for us without any games because the players that were away on international duty have returned in good shape, apart from Hazard. We've welcomed back some important players, including Mendy and Marcelo and Kroos has improved. I've seen some good things in our last few training sessions and we're motivated to go out and put in a good performance. The players are aware just how important this game is".
"We've been working on the mistakes that we've made in previous games and the team is fully prepared to come up against a team that plays good football and will be giving their all to win the game in what'll be a difficult game. We didn't perform well in the games just before the break and we've now got two important games ahead of us, with this match and the Barcelona game. In this period after the break, we've got to perform really well and the team is ready and motivated".
“The preparation is different every year because the stages of the season are different. At this stage of the season, virtually none of the teams are firing on all cylinders and that's pretty normal because the international breaks really affect things. We have to realise that this isn't the most important period of the season, which comes when you’re contesting the finals, in April and May”.
Video.Ancelotti: "El equipo sabe lo importante que es este partido"
“Kroos, Casemiro and Modric are players who continue to compete at this level because they’re top players. We’ve got young players who are pushing to play, including Valverde, Blanco and Camavinga. We have to consider the ages of each of them and the opportunities to give the young players game time to allow them to gain experience. Our midfield is up there amongst the best”.
"The fact that we haven't played with a strong identity is because something has happened in the games. At times, such as in the Espanyol game, I tried to defend with a 4-4-2 formation, but I'm now clear about the fact that this team has to set up in a 4-3-3 formation. There will be some games in which we go with a 4-3-3 without any real wingers, but this squad is more used to playing in a 4-3-3 formation and it's the ideal set-up for these players".
Hazard's injury and Mendy's recovery
“Hazard is tired of having the minor issue he's had and is working on it. He isn't available due to excess load, but he'll be available again soon, for the game against Barcelona or the Osasuna match. Mendy has recovered well and is available, we'll have to see whether he’ll start. The important thing is that we've had issues down the left flank because Miguel Gutiérrez, who did well, was our only available player. We've now got two left-backs fit and available and that's much better for us”.
"He's doing really well. He's showing great quality and I've already told him that he's going to get game time this season, but he's got one of the best goalkeepers in the world ahead of him in Courtois. We all think that he's doing very well and progressing really well. He's a goalkeeper who I'm sure will go on to have a successful career".
Praise for Shakhtar boss
"I know De Zerbi very well and he's a good friend. He did really well at Sassuolo and his sides have a strong identity: they play really good football".