Ancelotti: "We're feeling in good shape to defend our LaLiga title"

"We can't wait to get started but every game will be hotly contested", said the Italian coach.
Carlo Ancelotti appeared in a pre-match press conference at Real Madrid City to speak to the media ahead of the LaLiga curtain-raiser. The coach assessed the meeting with Almería at the Power Horse Stadium (Sunday, 10:00pm CEST) as the champions begin their defence of the title: “We're feeling great and we can't wait to get the season started. We're going to defend our title and every game with be hotly contested”.
“The rotations come as a result of having such a strong squad where everyone is highly motivated. There's a World Cup coming up and we need a deep squad in good condition. The idea is to rotate more than we did last year. I have a more complete squad”.

Will the end of the season following the World Cup be crucial?  
"We'll have no problem in the lead-up to the World Cup because the players want to go to the tournament in good shape. They'll prepare for it well. The big question mark lies after the World Cup and how the players will come back. Usually after a World Cup, they go on holiday, but now they'll be heading into the key stage of the season. We'll have to assess fatigue and think about giving them a rest. They're things we're unsure about at this stage".

The squad
"We're managing it well. Having more than 20 players can sometimes bring you problems in how you set up training. The tactical exercises force you to rotate, since you can only use 20 players. All the players understand that and we have no issues. The ideal is to have 23 players but we can sort it out without any problem".

Vini Jr. and the Ballon d'Or
"They are assessments that get made. He's thrilled with what he's achieved because he had a fantastic season and scored the goal that clinched the Decimocuarta. He doesn't care about his position. He'll be fighting to win it in the future and the players only care about the winner. Unfortunately for him, we've already got the winner here".
"We hope he continues to have success and shows the consistency he showed last year. It was a season for him where he didn't have any fatigue and he was unbelievable, such consistency. He was always decisive, all we ask is that he keeps it up".

Is Courtois the best goalkeeper he's had?
“It's very tough to compare the players I've had. I've had incredible goalkeepers like Buffon, Cech, Casillas, Neuer, Diego López... I've had the best and I couldn't say who was the best of the lot. Now we're enjoying having the best in the world and that's fantastic".

“He'll play more than last year, considering he can play in a range of positions. He's done very well on the right, on the left and as a false nine, which we're trying at the moment. He can show the quality he possesses in all three positions".

Valverde's development
“He started well last year but he picked up an injury against Barcelona and he struggled to get back into the team. In the second half of the season he was brilliant. He's come on a lot and he's a crucial part of the squad. He's able to adapt to playing out wide and that really helps us in games. His presence and ability have helped us out time and again".

What motivates him to keep coaching?
“The passion for this sport and the excitement that comes with coaching the best club in the world. That's what motivates me to wake up every day and enjoy this special time. I know it will come to an end one day and I want that moment to be as far away as possible. I'm happy to be coaching this club".

Casemiro and Tchouameni
“They can play together, they're CDMs with different attributes. Casemiro is more of a positional player and Tchouameni is more box-to-box. They can play together in a double-pivot system, either 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2”.

Kroos absent from Ballon d'Or nominees
“I was surprised because he had a fantastic season. I guess nominating all the Real Madrid players may cause problems. It's strange that neither he, nor Valverde, nor Militão, nor Alaba are on the list... They all had brilliant campaigns”.

Praise for Rüdiger
“He's in great shape. He played on the left in the first game, but I usually put him at centre-back. He could end up playing on the left if we have injuries but I plan to use him at centre-back”.

Ceballos and Asenso
“They're here and working well. That's the case for everyone. I'm focused on the squad and right now they're here, which will be the case until the 31st. If something changes in their minds, we'll have to adapt to that”.