Ancelotti hits out at FIFA, UEFA in schedule rant

Carlo Ancelotti has slammed the busy fixture list that Real Madrid are facing in three competitions, saying “something has to change” to protect players’ health.

Madrid will play Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final on May 6 before the first leg of their Champions League semifinal with Manchester City three days later on May 9, while continuing to chase leaders Barcelona in LaLiga.

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The reigning European champions beat Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to reach the Champions League semifinals for the 11th time in 13 years.

“Objectively, the calendar doesn’t make sense,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Friday ahead of Madrid’s LaLiga game with Celta Vigo. “It’s too tight, with too many games. We have to look at the health of the players.

“They’re the most important part of football, but everyone thinks about themselves: the league think about themselves, the federation think about themselves, FIFA think about themselves, UEFA think about themselves. It isn’t good for football. It isn’t right. Something has to change. Too many games.”

Madrid’s high-profile clash with City will be the third time the clubs have faced off in Europe in the last three years.

City won 4-2 on aggregate in the 2020 round-of-16, while Madrid came out on top, 6-5 on aggregate, in a thrilling semifinal last season.

“They’re a team that’s changed a bit but they’re still very strong, as always,” Ancelotti said when asked if Erling Haaland’s arrival had led coach Pep Guardiola to change City’s style.

“A forward like Haaland scores a lot of goals. But in these kinds of [Champions League] games the plan is the same, you have to do better than your opponent, that’s it.

“I think Madrid and City are teams that can play in different ways, with the quality of the squads they have,” he added, when asked if City were now more direct. “I don’t think Guardiola’s City have completely changed their style.

“When you have such a strong forward, your way of attacking changes a bit compared to the past. But a Madrid-City game can be a possession game or a transition game.”

Guardiola admitted — after City eliminated Bayern Munich in their quarterfinal on Wednesday — that “to win this competition, you have to beat Real Madrid.”

“Real Madrid are a very respected team,” Ancelotti responded. “When you’re respected that’s good, and if a coach like Guardiola says it, even better.”

Ancelotti said forward Karim Benzema was fit and available to face Celta on Saturday, after he was substituted with a knock against Chelsea.

The Italian also praised Celta midfielder Gabri Veiga, who ESPN has reported has been tracked by Madrid this season.

“Yes, I like him,” Ancelotti said. “He’s a top player like [Celta forward] Iago Aspas, they’re quality players who have something special.”

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