Ancelotti: Cristiano has time to recover for the Champions League final
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti was faced with more injury concerns after the 3-1 victory against Espanyol in their final game of the season, but he assured that everyone will be ready for the Champions League final.
Following the comfortable victory against Espanyol at the Bernabéu, aside from the result itself, the focus of questions Ancelotti had to deal with was regarding player fitness ahead of the Champions League final, particularly with Cristiano Ronaldo having to withdraw at the last minute and Karim Benzema suffering a pull in the second half.
In more detail, Ancelotti explained the situation with the Portuguese star.
“Cristiano wasn’t comfortable before the game. Yesterday he trained well and was confident. We didn’t risk him; he has had a test and it looks like a minor spasm. We’re relaxed because he has time to recover and play in the final. He hasn’t played in the last few matches. It wasn’t a risk because he trained normally yesterday and was full of confidence.”
“When the medical test doesn’t show anything, the player’s own judgment is very important. He was comfortable and happy yesterday. He wanted to play. He wasn’t right in the warm up and we decided to not use him in this match to avoid risking anything. The problem is that when you have a final coming up you can’t take risks. If it had been our last match of the season, he would have played. With such an important final coming up we didn’t need to take any risks. Cristiano is very sincere.”
Whilst seeing Benzema leave the pitch injured in the second half, wasn’t a pretty sight, Ancelotti also assured the Frenchman will be fine.
“Benzema suffered a minor abductor pull when he passed the ball to Bale. I don’t think he will have any problems to play the final. Di María played without any problems and it was the same for Carvajal. Khedira needed minutes to regain his match fitness. Illarra was excellent. Now we will start thinking about the next game.”
With the campaign in La Liga now closed, all eyes now turn on the Champions League final and team options for the clash against Atlético Madrid in Lisbon, as Ancelotti then discussed his midfield options and remaining confident that Illarramendi will be the most natural replacement for suspended Xabi Alonso.
“Illarra has a chance of starting the match. I have a week to think about the best possible line up. Illarra played at a good tempo, with intensity and was positionally very good. I am happy with how he performed. We have to think about Khedira who is coming back from a very serious injury, and who hasn’t been able to play for quite a while. He was good today, but as it stands at the moment Illarra has more of a chance of starting.”
The left-back slot is also a position up for debate and Ancelotti admitted that he’s still undecided who will win that slot for the final.
“Marcelo has done really well since his injury, and showed today that he is in great physical shape. There is a lot of competition in that position but I still haven’t decided if it will be Marcelo or Coentrão who plays.”
Finally, there was also confidence from Ancelotti, that Pepe should be fine to resume his role in defence, with the Italian content that the Portuguese international will be back in full training during the week.
“He has gotten better, I think he’ll start training with the group tomorrow. He underwent treatment and has started to run in the gym. We are confident that he will be able to play.”