Ancelotti: Alonso can make difference
ESPN FC Extra Time
Carlo Ancelotti says Xabi Alonso will bring quality and experience to the Real Madrid midfield when he returns, which could be soon as Wednesday’s La Liga game with Sevilla at the Bernabeu.
Alonso has not played for five months after undergoing surgery for a groin injury during the summer, and then breaking a metatarsal during preseason in August. He returned to full training with his teammates last week but was not risked in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Barcelona.
Ancelotti said he would continue to be careful with Alonso, 31, but was looking forward to having the Spain international available from now on.
“He is available,” Ancelotti said. “He is training with the team. Tomorrow he could start on the bench and I will try to give him minutes. Alonso has all the quality to help the team play better -- he has experience and good passing between the lines. He is also very good defensively. He is a very important player for us.”
Ancelotti said that his side, now six points behind leaders Barca in the Primera Division standings, had shown in the second half of the Clasico that they were close to hitting top form.
“It is normal that people are criticising us because we are not always playing well,” he said. “Our idea of play does not change. We are close to getting what we are looking for. What we lacked against Barca was continuity.
“If we played the first half like the second half, it could have been a great game. We played well only in the second half -- we need to play the full 90 minutes with the same intensity.”
The Italian would not confirm his lineup for Wednesday’s game, but suggested Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco would all play a part.
“I would like to keep the team motivated, in good physical condition, so it is normal to make rotations,” Ancelotti said. “Benzema will play, but the others I will not say for sure.
“Bale’s natural position is on the right, and when he plays he will be on the right. Isco began the season very well, but reached a point where he was a bit tired. I have let him recover and now he is fine -- he could play tomorrow.”
Unai Emary’s Sevilla side are currently unbeaten in five games in all competitions but have not won away from home in La Liga for over a year. Ancelotti said Madrid would need to show “intensity” for the entire 90 minutes to win the game.
“Sevilla are a well organised team,” he said. “But we are not going to change -- we need to play with intensity from the first minute until the last minute, and look to play to our maximum.”