Carlo Ancelotti says Luka Modric and Toni Kroos understand the need to refresh Real Madrid’s midfield after the duo found themselves on the bench for last week’s win at Athletic Bilbao.
Modric and Kroos were introduced as late substitutes during Madrid’s impressive 2-0 win at San Mames on Sunday, with the former Germany man making the points safe with a fine long-range finish.
Modric’s tally of 17 starts in all competitions this season has been bettered by team-mates Federico Valverde (24), Kroos (21) and Aurelien Tchouameni (18), while no Madrid midfielder has made more total appearances than Eduardo Camavinga’s 27.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s Copa del Rey quarter-final against rivals Atletico Madrid, Ancelotti said the experienced players in his squad understood the nature of Los Blancos’ transition.
“They are professionals and understand the quality of this team,” he said of Modric and Kroos. “I don’t need to explain why they don’t play.
“They understand it very well, we talked about it in pre-season. Now is a time of transition for this team.
“The veterans must have understanding and young players must have patience. That has been key to success in the squad. They are all motivated.
“They [Modric and Kroos] can still play together, I don’t have a single doubt. They contribute a lot and will continue to contribute during this season. They are always decisive.”
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) January 23, 2023
Ancelotti is yet to decide who will start in the engine room against Los Colchoneros, who triumphed in a two-legged tie when the rivals last met in the domestic cup back in 2015.
Asked about possible changes in midfield, the coach said: “It could be a part of the rotation that we have to take on for this game. Tomorrow we have to put together the best possible team, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”
The last meeting between the clubs was marred by racist abuse directed towards Vinicius Junior, audible before and during Madrid’s 2-1 win at the Civitas Metropolitano in September.
Vinicius was on the receiving end of several heavy challenges against Athletic last time out, and Ancelotti wants the winger to be afforded greater physical and mental protection.
“It is a subject that we are concentrating on,” Ancelotti said. “The player is in good physical condition, and mentally you have to protect him.
“It’s very important. Football needs Vinicius, who has an extraordinary talent. You have to protect the physical and mental aspects. He is very motivated and eager to contribute.”
Meanwhile, with reports continuing to suggest Ancelotti is a contender to coach Vinicius in international football by taking the vacant Brazil job, the Italian insisted he had not received any proposal from the Selecao.
“So far, we haven’t been in touch,” he said. “If that contact ever takes place, I will let you know.”
9 – Only Álvaro Morata (11) and Iago Aspas (10) have caused more yellow cards in @LaLigaEn than @vinijr (9, as many as Samuel Lino), although the @RealMadridEn Brazilian causes one every 6.8 fouls received by the 2.9 for the Madrilean or the 3.6 for the Galician. Pursued. pic.twitter.com/Qx7zIDCFeu
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 23, 2023
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