SportsAncelotti: "The key is on the bench"

Ancelotti: “The key is on the bench”

Ancelotti delivers a ball to Hazard during Valencia-Real Madrid.PABLO MORANO / Reuters

The couple that hardly understood each other a few months ago (Vinicius-Benzema) has turned without warning into a lethal alliance. The two rescued Madrid from the gutter at Mestalla in 154 seconds. As in Milan four days ago or in the Ciutat de València, the whites escaped again in the last flash. First the fashionable boy, the Brazilian, tied, a new player who appeared this time with one of his old goals, after bouncing his shot slightly off an opponent (Foulquier). And instantly, at your center, a hombrazo de Benzema put out the Bordalás fire, in which the whites were burning until then. A triumph that serves to match the club’s best historical streak of matches without losing away in the league (18).

“We are doing things like never before,” said an euphoric Vinicius, who left after scoring and attending at the same time for the first time in his 87 league games. His five goals in the championship start are only three less than those achieved in his 82 previous games. A phenomenon for which explanations are still being sought. “My teammates give me a lot of balls,” the boy celebrated. “We played well, but here it is always difficult. And more when you fit. We tried, but things didn’t work out. Until we get the comeback ”. And, next to him, Benzema, the player who has participated in the most goals in the five major leagues this season: 11 (six goals and five assists), ahead of Haaland (10).

The lift came after a baseline maneuver by Carlo Ancelotti, who dispensed with the 1-0 of the three starting midfielders (Casemiro, Modric and Valverde), placed Isco and Camavinga in the middle, and left four men (Vinicius, Rodrygo, Benzema and Jovic). ”The substitutes changed the dynamics. We were more aggressive ”, assured the white coach. “The key now is on the bench, especially with the five changes. We have a great advantage because our bench is of a high quality ”, he indicated as a general theory. “Today [por este domingo] we put in freshness and in the end we had control of the game. At the beginning, we were not as fresh as Valencia. Then they paid for the enormous physical exhaustion they did by putting pressure on us ”, analyzed the Italian, who also insisted on the daily message. “We have to improve the defensive aspect a lot. We will do it. The rest, good ”, he commented.

Ancelotti was clear about why his team had won: “Not because of quality, but because of an indomitable spirit. It was not a spectacular game, “he admitted. “We were fresh in the head until the end. I leave with the feeling that this squad always struggles, playing well and playing poorly ”, he valued. Until the saving appearance in extremis de Vinicius and Benzema, it was a suffering Madrid, again clinging to Courtois, who again left two weight stops with a tie on the scoreboard. During much of the clash, the local vigor chained the visitors. “Up we combined well in the first half against Hazard, but behind we suffered with the ball out,” conceded Ancelotti.

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The novelty in his eleven was the Belgian, a name that in the last hours was surrounded by some confusion regarding his substitution in Milan, from where he left unpublished. Before the game, the white coach pointed out that he had opted for the energy of Lucas Vázquez. And after the duel, he pointed out that he had thought about taking Hazard out in the last section, but finally chose Rodrygo’s band play. Only football explanations that this Saturday had an unexpected physical nuance. The white coach assured that the former blue he left Italy without minutes due to “a little discomfort” in one knee that, in any case, did not prevent him from entering the list or exercising in the band. “He has had injuries and giving him two games in a row can be more complicated,” said the merengue coach. Another episode around the attacker’s physical condition, the most expensive signing in the history of Real Madrid (115 million), which has had a sad medical history for two years. “Honestly, he is not at the level that everyone expects, but he is working and I see him with confidence,” Ancelotti finished this Saturday.

A not very encouraging picture that, however, in Mestalla left some sign of life in the 79 minutes that he played. First aesthetic, with a kind of roulette and a high heel to Benzema. And then statistical, because it was his performance where he generated the most occasions (six), according to Opta’s accounting. This is how Hazard’s weekly game ended. If Carlo Ancelotti’s words in the previous one are heeded, he will not play at the start on Wednesday against Mallorca. His performance in Valencia, yes, received a good note from the coach: “He played very well, he was active.”

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