NEWS STORY. 24/05/2022. Bárbara Jiménez
Carlo Ancelotti appeared in the press room at Real Madrid City for the UEFA Open Media Day ahead of this Saturday's Champions League final in Paris (9:00pm CEST). The madridista coach reflected: “The team is in good shape, we all started working together as of yesterday. We have a slight issue with Marcelo, but the full squad are in top physical condition and are very excited".
"We're preparing calmly for the game, focusing on what we need to do and how we want to do it. The excitement and motivation around the place are huge. We're playing the biggest game in world football and we're going to give it our all. This club has won so much and all the madridistas are proud of this team, as are we on the inside and we're enjoying it".
“The feeling at the moment is about enjoying ourselves and preparing well for the game. The team are relaxed, there's a good atmosphere and the concerns will creep in as we get closer to the match. The competition gets greater in Europe every year. There are many teams whose aim it is to win the Champions League. In that sense, getting to the final is a success in itself, with all the competition around. The fact Madrid has made the final several times over the last eight years is a huge success and we can win another one now".
Is it tougher to win LaLiga or the Champions League?
“Winning is hard, whether it's LaLiga or the Champions League, they're two different competitions. In the Champions League, you can't slip up and in the league you have time to make amends for the odd loss".
“He could start, whenever he's come on he's made a difference. It doesn't worry me because I know what he's capable of in the game. It's not a match for 11 players, there will be more involved. If we've made it to the final it's because the guys who have come on for just 3-4 minutes have been there to help the team out”.
“We have to have a list ready of the guys we believe are the best and if it comes to a shootout, you ask the players if they feel comfortable to take one. It’s pretty tough, I have been in finals where I’ve found it difficult to find players who want to take one.
Do Real Madrid deserve to win it?
“If we deserve to win the Champions League, it'll be because of what we do in the final. In the previous ties, we have deserved to make the final given what we've managed to do, especially in terms of our commitment. We haven't shown exceptional quality all the time but nobody has been able to match our desire and motivation. That alone isn't enough to win the Champions League, you have to play well and show commitment and motivation in the final".
The worst moment ahead of the final?
“For me, the toughest spell is the three or four hours before kick-off. It's a physical malaise. I've struggled with it a bit more this season, increased sweating and an accelerated heart rate. Negative thoughts creep in but fortunately all that stops once the game starts. Ahead of this type of game, you have to get through to the players about what they need to do on the pitch because that lifts the worry and pressure. Giving them lots of information is important".
“The fact we have players who have played in a lot of finals and others who haven't means it's a nice mix. Karim can explain to Camavinga and Mendy how to approach it. The dressing room is great, lots of these players have already been involved in finals, I don't need to teach them anything. The preparation for this game is going to be the same as ever, calm, excitement and a degree of concern. This team is more used to these kinds of games than any other".
Becoming the first coach to win four Champions Leagues
“It would be a huge achievement for me, but I know anything can happen in a final. I'm not obsessed with individual honours".
Today marks eight years since La Décima
“If we were to compare the build-up in 2014 with this time, back then there was a lot more pressure. Madrid hadn't won the Champions League for such a long time. Now, madridismo is motivated as ever but less obsessed with it and that will play to our advantage".
Are Madrid in better physical shape?
“If we're talking about a physical perspective, we're playing against a side which is among the best in the world in that regard. Add to that immense individual quality, a strong attack and good organisation. I don't think the physical side of things will determine the result, it will be important but there are lots of other elements to assess".
Which has been the most difficult tie so far?
“The most difficult to prepare was the Chelsea tie because of the mental aspect. You think you have an advantage and it was tough to get ready for that one, then the game was very hard too. In the other two we were trailing so it was a different approach".
How much is success down to the coaching staff or the squad?
“We have been able to foster a great atmosphere at Valdebebas because we have a good relationship. It's down to the coaching staff and the squad in equal measure. When the guys turn up here, they're happy, and when that happens the team can achieve great things. It's been a season where certain players have had more involvement than others but the atmosphere has been great and the guys who have had less game time haven't let their heads drop”.
“Real Madrid also have a lost final in Paris in their history. We can find the same motivation as Salah against Liverpool. We respect him, he's a great player and will surely be a threat".
Who do you see becoming an elite coach?
“Casemiro, Kroos, Modrić I'm not sure, Nacho... But when you ask them about it, they're not too interested, especially from a personal point of view of the relationship between players and coach. They see the difficulties a coach has. That's changed in football because before you had a squad of 16 players and a coaching staff of three. Now you've got a 25-man squad and 20 coaching staff".
“I hope not. We'd like to see Liverpool having to try and make the comeback. I don't know what might happen but we have the utmost respect for the opposition. They've done a great job in the Champions League in recent times. It will be an entertaining, evenly-matched and hard-fought final".
“He's fine. He's coming back from injury but he's hungry and motivated. He's training and he could be involved in the final, as could Bale. Everyone is excited at the prospect of playing in the final. To have everyone fit is a very positive sign".
What was the hardest decision to make?
“Every decision is pretty difficult and sometimes you can't tell the whole truth if you want to keep everyone motivated. This squad has given me no problems whatsoever in that sense because they have all respected my decision without any issue. I haven't had any trouble this season, we all respect each other greatly".
What do Liverpool represent?
“We have crossed paths on many occasions, on an individual level when I lost the final to them with Roma. In 2005 it was another sporting tragedy when the final looked all but won and we lost it on penalties. Then, as Salah said, the revenge in 2007 and now once again".
"They are a club I respect and one of the most beautiful things I've witnessed in my sporting career is the sight of Anfield behind the team, the atmosphere there. Last year I was lucky enough to win a derby there, after 21 years. I love their history and the atmosphere. Playing a final against them is special. They're a club that has won six Champions Leagues and that adds extra motivation to this game".
Pochettino, Tuchel, Guardiola; next up, Klopp. Strengths and weaknesses?
“They have taken football to new levels and in terms of Kloop and Tuchel, they have brought increased intensity and pressure. They're teams whose defensive lines player higher up. I don't think I'm from a previous generation. The players' attributes are the most important thing. You can play the type of game you have in your mind, but while understanding what's in front of you. I can't press high if I have a fat player. We need him to be slim and strong (laughs). A clear example, ideal ahead of a final".
Which decision are you most proud of?
“I'm very happy. I do my job and I'm the person who bears the greatest responsibility in the dressing room and I have to make decisions. We've done a great job all together”.
The toughest elements in the build-up?
“Before this kind of game, you have to get through to the players about what they need to do on the pitch because that helps take the worry and pressure off them. Giving them lots of information is important".
What has surprised you most about the squad?
“I won't say the quality, because I was well aware of that, but the consistency Vini Jr. has shown and the humility of players who I hadn't seen since 2014 and who have gone on to win another three Champions Leagues in that time, all the while retaining that humility, discipline and professionalism. They're an example for new lads coming up. Players who have made history in recent years such as Nacho, Modrić, Marcelo, Kroos, Casemiro…they haven't changed their attitude at all”.
Do you believe Madrid have been invincible so far?
“So far, yes, we've never let our heads drop when people had written us off. Sometimes you think you've been fortunate but ultimately the atmosphere here at this stadium is special. The bad luck both teams have now is that we're playing in a great city in Paris, but we won't have the advantage of our atmosphere, the magic of the stadium".
Teams with less financial controls
“When I talk about attributes, I mean players who cost 100 million and those who might cost 3 million, it doesn't change anything. A player's attributes are their own and they might be better or worse, they might run more or less. If you want a player with greater quality, you have to pay for it, but football is played with less quality players as well. It's not only football full of top quality that allows you to win things. The commitment, atmosphere, motivation, the physical and mental aspects, they all help you to win as well".
“We have never discussed players from other squads, we have respect for all clubs. We have to do our job and that's fairly clear right now. All we have to focus on is preparing well for the final”.