Chasing a three-goal deficit at Santiago Bernabeu, Liverpool failed to beat Thibaut Courtois even once in the second leg of the UCL Round of 16.
Conversely, the only goal of the night was in the name of Karim Benzema as Real Madrid extended the aggregate scoreline to 6-2.
It was far from the performance Carlo Ancotti would have wanted, for the hosts struggled to put away their chances and kill off Liverpool’s enthusiasm until the very end. Yet, all that counts is the quarterfinal spot which the men in white sealed in grandstand fashion.
Ancelotti spoke to the media after his team’s win over Liverpool and first addressed the hosts’ performance on the night.
"It was a good game, we delivered a complete performance. We could have easily slipped up but we were disciplined early on, with our ideas clear in our minds, and we finished strongly as well."
Vinicius Jr was seemingly at the centre of all of Real Madrid’s counter-attacks on the night. In the end, it was the Br azilian who assisted Benzema’s goal. Ancelotti praised the winger for his display and called him the best player in the world.
"For me, he’s the best in the world. He was decisive because he provided the assist and every time he got forward he posed a threat."
The UEFA Champions League quarterfinal draw is slated to take place on Friday in Switzerland. The Real Madrid manager was asked to pick his preference for the next round to which he modestly said,
"I have no preference over our next opponents. Our aim is to win the Champions League and to do that, we have to get through every round. Italian football has three teams left, which is great for the game in Italy."
One of Real Madrid’s strongest points in the Champions League is their ability to play the situation and not a hard-wired style of football. Ancelotti said that the men in white were a ‘modern team’ and elaborated on the same.
"We have so much quality, experience, energy and commitment as a group. We’re a modern team because we have all of those attributes."
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric both started against Liverpool and played close to the entire 90 minutes. Speaking about the performance of his veteran midfielders, he said,
" Modric and Kroos played brilliantly because they brought the ball out from the back so well and really helped us keep the game under control. Modric and Kroos don’t play because of the careers they’ve had, they play because they deserve to."
Ancelotti then touched on the topic of how the Champions League always brought the most challenging clashes and emphasised that the road to the trophy would not be easy.
“Last year gave us so much more confidence and you could see that in this tie, across both games against a very strong side. Now we have to play in the quarter-finals and there are surprises in there like the Italian teams, who nobody expected to get this far. The Champions League is very tough and you have to compete and fight to the end "
Against Liverpool, the Italian tactician did not make a single substitution until the 82nd minute. When asked about why he waited so late to pull the trigger, he said,
"I waited because the team was in good shape. I didn’t need to change things for the sake of it. I made some substitutions to stop the game and win it "
Nacho Fernandez mirrored his first-leg performance on the night, shutting down Liverpool’s right-wing and Mohamed Salah to turn the game in Real Madrid’s favour.
" Nacho delivered a top-class performance. It isn’t easy to play against Salah and he did a brilliant job. The problems I have come when I have to play guys out of position " Ancelotti said about the veteran defender.
One of the most difficult facets of the managerial job at Real Madrid is the management of players. The coach maintained that it was very difficult to keep all players happy but applauded the commitment of lesser-playing players.
"I would love to give minutes to everyone but you just can’t and I have to look at their attitude. Ceballos and Nacho make the most of the time they get in spectacular fashion "
Real Madrid boast of a special balance between youth and experience that provided the best of both worlds on the field. The manager’s next question was along the lines of striking that balance to which he replied,
"The players create the atmosphere thanks to their intelligence and humility. The veterans’ humility is so important because they don’t have egos. Then it’s also important that the young players are patient because they know they have guys who have had fantastic careers ahead of them "
The recent weeks have been special for Eduardo Camavinga as the youngster has seemingly risen exponentially in prominence. He started ahead of Aurelien Tchouameni on Wednesday and delivered a spectacular display for which Ancelotti had only words of praise.
"He’s enjoying a very good spell at the moment and he’s making the most of it. He’s doing well with Kroos and Modric. When Kroos drops off to get possession he has the opportunity to move forward. He played well "
Finally, the manager wound up his press conference with an update on Benzema’s injury. The Italian said,
"It’s a knock. He was feeling a bit sore and it hurts a little, but I think he’ll recover without any problems for Sunday."