Real Madrid manager Ancelotti defends selection for Copa loss to Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has defended his selection for their Copa del Rey quarter-final loss to Athletic Bilbao.

Real lost at San Mames 1-0 to a winner from Athletic.

Ancelotti said: “We are suffering because we want to win all the competitions we take part in. We have won the Super Cup, we are in good shape in two other competitions and I don’t think this defeat will have any negative consequences”. The consequence is that this defeat could make us stronger. We knew it would be a tough match and we had players missing. Vini Jr. gave it their all, they really played hard against him but that’s the way it is.

“I took (Toni) Kroos off for (Eduardo) Camavinga due to fatigue, the change of Vini Jr. and Isco was due to fatigue… I had more substitutions and was planning to use them in extra time. Unfortunately, they scored at the last minute and I didn’t have time to play any other guys.”

He also slammed: “I have nothing to say. Why are you talking about (Gareth) Bale, (Eden) Hazard and (Luka) Jović? Why not ask about (Dani) Ceballos, (Dani) Carvajal “All the guys who don’t play is because they’re being punished, right? It can’t be just those three. There’s nothing in it.”

“I made decisions that didn’t involve those players, but if we’re being honest, you have to discuss Ceballos, who didn’t play a single minute, and those on the bench like (Jesus) Vallejo , which have the same quality.

“I wasn’t surprised by the way the game went. It’s true that Athletic were more attacking in the first half, but they didn’t create many chances and we defended very well. The difference from other matches is that we weren’t able to play at the back due to their pressure.

“We played on the outside too much because we needed to get the ball more in the middle with (Thibaut) Courtois and Casemiro. When we moved the ball through (David) Alaba and Lucas (Vazquez) we put them under pressure At the end of the first half, we talked about having more ball in the middle, but it didn’t work out the way we wanted.”

When asked if it was the worst performance of the season, Ancelotti added: “No, not at all. It was difficult because we knew the game against Athletic would be difficult. We won in La Liga, but it was tough. The game was extremely close until the last minute and Athletic deserved it for the incredible effort he put in, but no, I don’t think it was our worst performance of the season.”

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Martin E. Berry