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Ancelotti: “Being back in a final is always special, even more so with Real Madrid”

NEWS STORY. 15/01/2022

“The personality and character the team has in these kinds of games means I'm calm", added the coach.

Carlo Ancelotti appeared in an online press conference at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh ahead of the Spanish Super Cup final clash with Athletic (Sunday, 7:30pm CET). The coach reflected: “The team has recovered well, we trained well and have no physical issues. Alaba and Asensio are doubts and we'll have to assess them in this evening's training session. The plan is to win the game”.

"We have to analyse the opposition. We know each other very well because we have played twice in a month, once in Madrid and once in Bilbao. It's going to be a very hard-fought match, just like the others were. 

The opposition 
"Athletic have a range of attributes, including a solid defence, organisation, pace up top, quality on set pieces... We have to bear that in mind. Our approach will be different to the semifinal because Athletic have different characteristics to Barcelona".

Another final
“I'm extremely happy to be experiencing this period, I'm very excited. Being back in a final again is special and even more so when it's at the helm of Real Madrid. This team is used to these types of games and these moments".
“We don't know each other too well but we've spoken before and after games. I've seen a photo when we played against each other in 1987 and I didn't remember that. Sometimes there are people you know, and you get this special feeling when you meet them again. Athletic are playing very well and did well with Valencia. The matches against his teams are tough. He's great at the tiny details and his teams are well organised. That was clear against Atlético, a disciplined team who never give up".
“We are used to it happening in our family and our work now. I feel sorry for Carvajal because he did very well in the semifinal. He's feeling fine physically, but he will have to wait".

Playing style
"I respect everyone, every facet of football is to be respected. You might want to keep the ball because you've got more chance of winning, and of showing an identity. Against Cádiz, for instance, they made life hard for us. There's not some magic approach which guarantees you'll win. The perfect system doesn't exist. You don't win every time because you play with the ball, or on the counter. A game can be won on set-pieces too. If we play defensively one day, it doesn't mean we're a defensive team. We've scored more goals than any other team in LaLiga”.

“I'm thrilled to hear that Madrid are playing well on the counter because it's not easy. You have to be play vertically and have players who can release the pass at the perfect moment, as well as forwards who come onto it at just the right time. In our third goal against Barcelona we had six players in the box, not just one. We didn't win because of a long hoof up to Vinicius. There were three or four short passes. It's a well-worked counter-attack. I'm delighted if people are saying we're playing on the counter".
Managing injuries
"I've never risked a player who doesn't feel absolutely right. We won't be forcing anyone. Nacho and Rodrygo did a good job”.
Atmosphere in Saudi Arabia
"We saw a good atmosphere in the Clásico with fans of both sides. We know it's important to the Federation and the lower leagues. It's fine".
Key aspects to Athletic clash
"From a defensive perspective, in the second game against them we were better. It will be decided on the details. Strength on set-pieces will be a big one".
"I think back to his skill against Alves for the second goal. He's a solid player. Sometimes he takes risks and that helps up to bring the ball out from the back. He's very strong one on one, he's doing a great job. He was one of the best players against Barcelona as far as I'm concerned".
Vini Jr. against Athletic
"He'll have space on the outside, we'll push him inside a bit too so he can help Benzema. He did it well against Valencia. It's not just his one-on-one abilities on the outside. It's something he doesn't do so much at the moment but he'll enjoy it, alongside his pace without the ball".
Best moment of the season
"I don't know, perhaps just before Christmas in the derby. We might not have got back to that level yet but I'm happy we're in a final. The personality and character the team has in these kinds of games means I'm calm. Not to mention the ability these players have for this kind of clash. It's an easy job for me, I don't have to motivate them, they have that already".
Benzema's maturity
"He hasn't changed, he's as humble as ever. What's changed is how others are seeing him. They're looking to him more as a leader. I think people look at him differently to how they did six years ago".