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Ancelotti: “El Clásico is a very demanding game and we'll have to be at our best”

NEWS STORY. 19/03/2022

"We’re going to have to produce a strong all-round performance and can't go thinking that doing just one thing well will be enough to win the game", commented the madridista boss.

Carlo Ancelotti shared his thoughts in an online press conference from Real Madrid City on the eve of Sunday’s LaLiga Matchday 29 encounter between our team and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabéu (9pm CET) and the coach spoke about the key areas in El Clásico: "It's all about commitment, discipline and quality. It's a very demanding game. It's El Clásico, a special game and we’ll have to be at our best. The team's in good shape, we've worked hard and are feeling confident about tomorrow”.

"It's a game where we want to be at our best. We’re going to have to produce a strong all-round performance because we're up against a very strong side. We can't go thinking that doing just one thing well will be enough to win the game. We’ll have to defend well, press well, be good on the ball, play out well from the back and be direct... it'll need to be an all-round performance”.

“There's no change to the team’s identity because that never changes. Barcelona have a very clearly defined playing style and Xavi embodies that style very strongly. The team has improved greatly and is currently on a very good run. They’re a strong all-round side that play some very good football and I personally believe that they’re performing very well”.
Benzema and Mendy won't be involved tomorrow and they'll stay here with us. They’ll start working with us next week. We've never taken any risks, and that applies to the PSG game. Benzema won't play tomorrow becuase he hasn't trained yet, he's feeling a bit of discomfort, it's a small one, but it's preventing him from training and, obviously playing".

Forward line
“We've got options because we've got Mariano, Jović, and I've also played Isco there and Rodrygo too. We have a lot of options, but I've picked the one I think is best suited to this game”.

Magic of the Bernabéu
“The last time we played at the Bernabéu was an unforgettable night and one that remains in all of our hearts and eyes. I think that we’ll be capable of reproducing that. We’ll be giving our all to try and produce a repeat of that night”.

“If we win tomorrow it'll give us another three points and will take us closer to winning LaLiga. If we draw the game, it'll give us another point and if we lose the match, we won't get any points. We can't go thinking that Barcelona are out of it. I believe that they'll battle right until the last game for whatever that may be, the Champions League, winning... I think that all of the teams will fight all the way until the last match”.

 Is it possible to win without Benzema?
“Yes, I believe that we're capable of doing it. Benzema is obviously a very important part of this team and Karim is very good at putting the finishing touch to the team’s work. Without Karim in the team, we have to put in the same effort and seek other solutions. I'm not concerned about Karim. He's obviously 34 years old and it's now happened to him a couple of times that after having recovered from small knocks he has made all the difference on his return. We've now got a fortnight to work with him and he’ll once again make the difference. The fact that he isn't playing tomorrow doesn't concern me because we've got the time to get him ready for the run-in, in which he will make the difference, just as he always does”. 

Real Madrid’s style
Real Madrid’s style has to match the players’ characteristics and I think that all teams have to take that approach. If you’ve got players who are capable of keeping possession, you have to play possession-based football. If you've got some very good defenders who are good with the ball at their feet, you have to try and play out from the back, but if you haven't got defenders who are good on the bal, playing long balls is a good option to attack. I don't rule anything out. Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to look for a playing style that the players feel comfortable with and I'm not going to force a player to play in a position where he’s not comfortable. For me, football isn't just about one single identity, I like my teams to be able to play in different ways and we're capable of doing that here because we've got a squad with immense quality, both in attack and defence. We've got good energy in the middle of the park and we very often approach games with lots of different options to try and win it”.

“We’ll have to assess Benzema’s future, but I think he has played the right number of games this season. His absence has not affected the team because he continues to be the top scorer in the league and had he not got injured, I could have given him a rest. He picked up an injury and enjoyed that time to recover and come back and made the difference. I think that this injury has come at a good time. We've now got a fortnight and he's not going away with his national team, he's staying here and we'll be fresher when he returns”.

“I'm happy and pleased with him. Everybody respects me. It's true that those who don't play end up suffering more. Unfortunately, my job involves taking decisions that affect the player, not the person. The players we've got here are very professional. Nacho is a player with a balanced personality. He’s very well balanced. He knows what his role is within this squad and it doesn't matter whether he plays or not. He always retains that balance and displays excellent professionalism, regardless of what happens. Whether he plays or not, or whether he plays at full-back or at centre-back, he always puts in a top performance”.

Hazard & Bale
“I'm happy with them. Players of this level always want to take centre stage and it is only the role that they're handed by the coach that will determine whether they have an important role to play. I haven't given them that central role because I've gone with other players, but I'm pleased with them from a professional perspective. They've never missed a training session and are always there”.