Carlo Ancelotti: I’m happy with season so far but there’s a long way to go

By Sports Desk December 16, 2023

Carlo Ancelotti knows Real Madrid still have a long way to go if they are to achieve their targets for the season.

Los Blancos host Villarreal at the Bernabeu on Sunday looking to keep up the pressure at the top of LaLiga, with surprise leaders Girona not in action until Monday night.

Having secured safe passage through to the knockout stage of the Champions League with a perfect group record, Ancelotti wants full focus on the last two games before the Christmas break.

 

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“We are up against a well-organised, well-prepared team, but we are on a great run, the results reflect that,” Ancelotti said.

“The atmosphere is good, there’s a good mood around the place and the players are motivated.

“We want to finish the first half of the season strongly, we’ve done really well so far.

“We’ve managed the first part of the campaign well, despite all the problems we’ve had. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have faith in the campaign.

“I’m pleased with what we’ve done to this point, but well aware of what is still to come because it’s a long season – there are still six months to go.”

Ancelotti’s current deal runs through to the end of the season and the veteran Italian coach has been linked with a switch to take over Brazil’s national team.

For the moment, though, the 64-year-old is just concentrating on the job in hand.

“Being Real Madrid coach is the most important thing. I hope the players will give me a Christmas present by winning the last couple of games so we can have a relaxed festive period,” Ancelotti said at a press conference.

“If the club is happy then I am too. There is no rush to renew my deal, it’s not a problem. We are here until 30 June 2024.”

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Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is fit again after a thigh injury and started the Champions League win at Union Berlin on Tuesday night ahead of Ukrainian Andriy Lunin.

“I have decided (who will play against Villarreal), but I haven’t spoken to them yet. I want them to hear it from me before finding out in the press,” Ancelotti said.

“The good thing is that they make it hard for me because they are both in such great form.”

Villarreal head coach Marcelino, who returned to the club last month, knows his side will have to try to shackle “extraordinary” England midfielder Jude Bellingham if they are to leave the Bernabeu with a positive result.

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“He is the player who has given the best performance in all of Europe,” Marcelino said at a press conference.

“We will try not to let him get involved too much. It will be difficult because he has a lot of participation in most of the pitch, especially in the final third.

“He is accompanied by players of great quality like Rodrygo.

“We are going to need to be strong collectively to reduce their influence on the game.”

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