Carlo Ancelotti praised Luka Modric and Toni Kroos after the veteran midfielders starred in Real Madrid’s 1-0 Champions League round-of-16 win over Liverpool on Wednesday.
Karim Benzema scored in the 78th minute with Vinicius Junior providing the assist as holders Madrid overcame last year’s beaten finalists Liverpool 6-2 on aggregate to qualify for the quarterfinals.
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Ancelotti said the displays of midfielders Modric and Kroos — whose contracts are both currently due to expire this summer — as well as youngster Eduardo Camavinga had been key to Madrid’s control of the game.
“We’re a modern team. Football nowadays demands collective commitment, individual quality, energy and experience,” the Italian coach said in his post-match news conference. “Modric and Kroos played well today. The team could have been afraid to have the ball to avoid their press, but they did well and we controlled the game.”
“The atmosphere is created by the players,” Ancelotti added. “The humility of the veterans is the key, they have no ego. The youngsters are patient, knowing they have players with fantastic careers ahead of them. But Modric and Kroos don’t play because of the careers they’ve had, they play because they deserve it.”
Ancelotti said Benzema had suffered “some discomfort” after scoring, but would be available for Sunday’s LaLiga Clasico with Barcelona — echoing the earlier words of Benzema himself, who described it as “a knock” — and described Vinicius as the best player in the world right now.
“He is, for me,” Ancelotti said. “He didn’t score today but he was decisive, he provided the assist and each time that he took a player on, he was dangerous.”
Madrid’s win saw them join Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Napoli, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Benfica in the quarterfinal draw, which will take place on Friday.