Carlo Ancelotti said he welcomes the criticism that comes with being Real Madrid coach, after his management of the team came under fire following their elimination from the Copa del Rey this week.
Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to Athletic Club at San Mames on Thursday was the first major setback for Ancelotti since returning to take charge of the club last summer.
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“I love being Real Madrid coach so much that criticism is welcome,” Ancelotti said in a news conference ahead of Sunday’s league game with Granada. “It’s normal. I appreciate criticism. It keeps me alive.”
The team won the Supercopa in Saudi Arabia last month, are top of LaLiga and will face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16, but their cup exit raised doubts about Ancelotti’s alleged over-reliance on a regular starting XI and lack of rotation.
“I am used to this kind of situation,” Ancelotti said. “I’m Real Madrid coach and I have to take decisions that are controversial sometimes.”
He added: “It is true that I have often used the same players. January was difficult with the Supercopa, the Copa, the Brazilians going away [on international duty]. That’s over now and we will work differently.”
Karim Benzema missed Thursday’s game with a muscle strain — and will also be absent against Granada — with Ancelotti responding by opting to play without a recognised centre forward.
The coach defended his team selection, and his decision to leave Luka Jovic, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale on the bench.
“I took a risk with Vinicius [Junior, who had played for Brazil a day earlier.]” Ancelotti said. “We can talk about that. I knew he was tired but despite that I knew he could help us. Otherwise I don’t think there’s much to say.”
Madrid are four points clear at the top of the LaLiga table, with Sevilla leading the chase in second, and usual title rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona — who face each other earlier on Sunday — 14 and 15 points further back respectively.