Ancelotti: “The squad has experience and is used to such demands"

"We're going to compete to win LaLiga, the team is doing well", explained the coach.
Carlo Ancelotti addressed the media in an online press conference in the build-up to Wednesday's rearranged LaLiga Matchday 9 meeting with Athletic at the Santiago Bernabéu (9pm CET) and had the following to say: "I'm relaxed because my squad is used to this level of mental demand and is motivated. They have the experience to cope with these kinds of games and the motivation levels are high. We have no problems".

"Athletic concede few goals and are very well organised defensively. They apply a high press, are a compact side and are well organised at the back. The job that Marcelino has done, not only at his current club but at the others where he's been, shows that he's a coach who does a lot of good work on the defensive side and has a very clear identity. This will be a really demanding game for us and it'll be no different to the Sevilla match. We'll have to be clear about the attacking side of things and get the balance right because they're a direct side. It'll be important to get the balance right". 

Ballon d'Or 
"We have to give the Ballon d'Or ranking the value it deserves. Messi won it and he remains a great player. The individual awards are important for the players and they're a motivation, but it doesn't matter if they don't win. I hope that a Madrid player wins it next year. Benzema has had an excellent season, he finished fourth and will now have the motivation to play and train well to win it.

 Vinicius has the quality to be in contention for it one day. We've had BenzemaModrić and Courtois in the shortlist and the Real Madrid squad has plenty of options. It's difficult for a goalkeeper to win the Ballon d'Or, but he's got the quality to do so". 

“I'm from Real Madrid and am not going to vote for a player who doesn't play for Madrid. If I was able to choose the best player, I'd have chosen Benzema. My number two would have been Vinicius, Courtois in third, Casimero in fourth, Kroos in fifth, Camavinga in sixth… I have to show respect because speaking about Messi would mean that he's the best and that's a personal opinion”.

Squad
“The team is on good form and I'm not going to rotate for the sake of it. If a player is suffering from fatigue, the best thing is to avoid any risks. In terms of seeing whether a player is OK and has recovered, that's an assessment that I have to make every day”.

Performances in LaLiga
“We’re going to compete to win the LaLiga title. The squad is doing well. We're performing consistently. We competed well in the opening games of the season and have tried to give our all. Our points tally in the table is deserved”.

 Vinicius Jr.
“He knows his position within the squad very well, he knows his teammates and he doesn't feel like he's a star because he's gracious. That's one of his biggest strengths. He knows that he has players alongside him who have personality and character and that will help and to show his role within the squad”.
 
Hazard
"He's fine and did a double session with the team. He felt good and has returned in good shape. He'll be with the team. It wasn't a muscle issue, it was gastroenteritis. He has suffered with it, as has Rodrygo, who's still struggling and isn't yet in his best shape. Hazard has been through the same and there's nothing else going on".
 
Hazard’s problems are physical and he has to improve his fitness. Playing minutes will clearly help him because it will allow him to improve. He has to hang in there before being given more game time and playing more. He’s doing fine, there are lots of games to come and he’ll get opportunities to play”.

Militão and Alaba
“The two of them are combining their qualities as well. Militão has better physical attributes. Alaba is more used to operating in a four-man defense. Both of them are performing well. I want to point out that Nacho is in good form and the fact that he's not playing as much doesn't change anything. He has excellent fitness and combines well with the two of them because Nacho is able to play in several positions. He likes playing at centre-back. We're in good shape in that regard. We have to improve because at times the four of them don't work well together, with one of them dropping back and another of them stepping up. We have to work day in, day out to try to get the four of them to be on the same wavelength in the same situation”.
 
Controversial incidents in Sevilla game
"I don't know what's been made of it because I just focus on what we have to do and prepare videos of the opposition. I've read something about Sevilla being a bit annoyed. They're pretty clear situations that the referees tried to clarify at the start of the season by saying that soft penalties wouldn't be awarded. There were two incidents in the Real Madrid v Sevila game. One of them involved Ocamps with slight contact from Alaba and another one from Diego Carlos on Vinicius. They weren't awarded because they were soft penalities and I agree with that. The penalty needs to be clear cut because there's more chance of scoring than missing. When it's not clear, I agree that it shouldn't be awarded".
 
Winter transfer window
"You've got to assemble your squad in the summer. I don't like changing things in January as much because it may mean that something went wrong in the summer. We don't need to improve the squad in January. If there are no players who aren't happy you might think about it, but it's not a question of signings. It's a well-assembled squad and one that's capable of competing all the way".
 
Mbappé
“Playing for a great club helps you to win the Ballon d'Or. In terms of the assessment, how you perform with your team is taken into account. If you win things, like trophies, you've got a better chance of securing the award. It's an important award for the players, but it's an individual award. I haven't seen Benzema and Courtois crying and they accepted it without any issue”.