Ancelotti: Copa loss won’t ruin LaLiga, UCL hopes

Clubs

Carlo Ancelotti denied that Real Madrid‘s Copa del Rey exit could derail their season after Athletic Club‘s 1-0 quarterfinal win at San Mames on Thursday.

Alex Berenguer’s 89th minute strike was enough to put Athletic into the tournament’s last four, joining Rayo Vallecano, Valencia and Real Betis in Friday’s semifinal draw.

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The defeat means Madrid won’t be able to add the Copa to last month’s Supercopa triumph, but they remain in the hunt for more trophies, top of LaLiga and facing Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round-of-16.

“We’re hurt, because we want to win every competition we play,” Ancelotti said in a post-match news conference.

“We won the Supercopa, and this one has gone, but we have two more competitions where we’re well-positioned.

“I don’t think this defeat will have consequences. The only consequence is that it can make us stronger.”

Madrid struggled to create chances in Bilbao — their best opportunity saw Casemiro‘s low shot saved in the second half — as the team missed the injured Karim Benzema.

“It wasn’t our worse game of the season,” Ancelotti said. “A difficult game, and we knew it would be, but that’s all. We won here in the league (1-2 in December) but it was tough. This match was even until the last minute.

“Athletic deserved it with the effort they made, but I don’t think we played our worst game of the season today.”

Ancelotti’s substitutions at San Mames came under scrutiny after he left Luka Jovic, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale on the bench, despite the need for goals.

“I swapped (Toni) Kroos for (Eduardo) Camavinga and Vinicius for Isco because of tiredness,” Ancelotti said. “I was thinking about making changes for extra time, but unfortunately they scored in the last minute.”

“Why would you talk about them?” he said, after being asked if Jovic, Bale and Hazard had been frozen out.

“Why not (Dani) Ceballos or (Dani) Carvajal? Everyone who didn’t play would have to have been punished, not just those three. I took decisions and didn’t use those players.”

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