NEWS STORY. 10/02/2023. Eduardo Olivera
Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the press at the Prince Moulay Abdellah stadium. The coach looked ahead to the final of the Club World Cup against Al Hilal: “It’s a massive a challenge. We're very close to winning a trophy that’s really important to us. It's been extremely difficult to get here and we've made a lot of sacrifices. This is a day of excitement and desire. I urge the team to enjoy this match and to do their best. We’re well up for it and want to win, as always."
"Al Hilal are a good team, who have individual qualities. They’ve got a lot of players in the Saudi national team, who did well in the World Cup, and players with a lot of experience in Europe. We have great respect for them. They showed their quality by knocking out Flamengo in the semi-finals. It's a World Cup final and it's a huge game. We're going to enjoy it because it doesn't happen very often in a football career."
Benzema and Militão
"They came yesterday because we believe they might have a part to play. Today's training will be important for them and I think they have a chance to play. If not, they wouldn't have come. Today they'll train and then I'll decide if they can play or not."
Changes in the midfield
"In this period we've benefitted from Ceballos' quality - he's done really well. The others are progressing gradually. Kroos has played well in this period. Modrić is getting better in terms of fitness. Tchouameni has been injured and is back. I always demand the same from the midfield. Nothing has changed much. The one thing that has changed has been Ceballos' form and he’s been hugely important for us."
A decisive moment
“This time of the season is always important when you get to February or March. Now the Champions League has come earlier and it's also the decisive moment of the season. But we come to this point every year, just as we did last year. I think we’ve arrived at this moment in good shape and we begin with the final of a World Cup, which is a great thing.”
Ramón Díaz, Al Hilal coach
“I remember he was a great striker and played for top clubs. He was physically strong and played with intensity in matches. He was always a positive figure in all the teams he played for, everyone remembers him well. I'm delighted to see him again. We've faced each other many times as players and this is the first time as a coach. I'm going to greet him warmly because I've got fond memories of him.”
Strategy in midfield
“It's quite complex to decide on the midfield. But that's what I have to do, try to choose what's best. At the moment we coaches have the advantage of making five substitutions and the players who don't start can change the pattern of play when they come on. We got to this final because those who came off the bench changed the games and allowed us to win the Champions League. It's tough, but I think the players understand their role pretty well. Starting a match is important and coming on later is just as important.”
On the need for a striker
“This is a subject we'll be discussing. So far we have to take into account Benzema's age, but also what he contributes. He didn't contribute as much in the first part of the season due to injury, which happens to a lot of players. When he came back in the first part of the season he did really well and I'm convinced that he'll also do well next year. We'll talk about this at the end of the season at leisure.”
Much to lose and little to gain
“Tomorrow's trophy is very important. We've come to the end of a long road and we have to complete it successfully. This final can give us a big boost for the games to come and give us even more confidence. The team's confident at the moment, but we were stung by the defeat against Barcelona in the Super Cup and the game against Mallorca. But this happens in football and we can't lose hope and confidence because it could be a great season, just like last year's. I'm convinced about this and I think the squad has improved in comparison to last year. If we do well, we can do the same this year too.”
More clubs in the tournament
“Football's changing and this can be seen by the fact that Al Hilal have reached the final. Football is becoming more and more global, as this final illustrates. It's no longer Europe against South America, but against Asia. At the World Cup we saw Saudi Arabia beat the world champions, Argentina. It's much better for football to have many teams all over the world to be a truly global sport. That's what is really important.”
Analysis of the season so far
“It's not easy to assess Real Madrid's season. I say that we started well with the Uefa Super Cup and until the World Cup the team did well. We did well in the first part of the season, we topped the Champions League group and after the World Cup nobody knows what happened. It was hard for us to get all the players back who went there. January cost us in points and injuries. February has come and we've done well in some moments and in some games.”
"One thing that's clear is that the players are progressing physically and we're at a crucial point in the season as we try to get players back. Tomorrow's game is a final and Real Madrid have a lot of respect for them. We'll play to our best physically, mentally and tactically.”
“In relation to Vini, I think that if there's a problem, we have to look for a solution, and that's all there is to it. We're not stupid and we're going to find one.”
Strength of the Champions League
“Whoever wins tomorrow's match becomes the world champions. The winners of the Champions League are the European champions. I've been in football for 40 years and I've been lucky enough for this to be my sixth final. Making it here six times is a big deal and this isn't something that happens every year. It happens from time to time and you have to enjoy it and try to win.”
“I don't know, he's got the quality to score plenty of goals. He scores important goals, last year he scored the big goals. I'm not going to gamble because I'm putting myself on the line with Valverde and I'm not going to take a risk with Rodrygo.”
Opinion on Morocco
“I think Rabat is a very beautiful and clean city. The people are very respectful and we love the training centre of the Moroccan Federation, it's wonderful. We just need to make sure we win tomorrow's match.”