Ancelotti: Real Madrid are still feeling the impact of the World Cup mid-season

Madrid: Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday that the team is still struggling to regain fitness after the domestic season was temporarily suspended during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The Italian coach is preparing his team for the Spanish Super Cup semi-final against Valencia in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, Wednesday, but needs to excite its players after a 2-1 loss to Villarreal in the Spanish league at the weekend. Ancelotti said he was looking to make changes after the World Cup took place in mid-season. “It was expected that (the players) would not be at their best level in right now, but we are seeing positive signs in the (training) sessions,” said Ancelotti in a press conference in Riyadh. “I was surprised by the performance against Villarreal. We need to start sorting things out. We didn’t have time to prepare. “We are good at defending and we have the necessary quality in front line, but the players in all positions must always support each other”. After the champions in charge of Real Madrid met Valencia on Wednesday, Barcelona meet Real Betis on Thursday in a bid to reach the final on Sunday. Real Madrid traveled in Saudi Arabia is without defensive midfielder Aurelien Choameni and centre-back David Alaba on Monday, both of whom have suffered undisclosed injuries, adding to the squad’s defensive woes. “The defensive part is more about concentration, strength and sacrifice than quality,” said Ancelotti. “Our defense has always been solid and tight. I’m sure we’ll be back to how we were before soon. “I don’t see a psychological burden on the players. Obviously what happened at Villarreal hurt us, but we have to see how the team reacts. The Spanish Football Federation had reached a 10-year deal worth 40 million euros ($42.92 million) a year with Saudi authorities in 2019 to expand the Super Cup to be held in Middle East with four teams participating instead of two. Last year, Real Madrid beat the previous year’s champions Athletic Bilbao 2-0 in final, winning the second title in three years. (Reuters)