Carlo Ancelotti disputed that Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey exit might derail their season despite losing 1-0 to Athletic Club’s in the quarterfinal at San Mames on Thursday.
Athletic qualified for the tournament’s last four thanks to Alex Berenguer’s 89th-minute goal, joining Rayo Vallecano, Valencia, and Real Betis in Friday’s semifinal draw.
Madrid will not be able to add the Copa to their Supercopa victory last month, but they remain in contention for more prizes, sitting atop LaLiga and facing Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.
“We won the Supercopa, and while this one is over, we still have two more competitions in which we are competitive.
“I don’t believe this defeat will have any ramifications. The sole benefit is that suffering has the potential to make us stronger.”
Madrid struggled to produce chances in Bilbao, with Casemiro’s low shot in the second half being saved while the squad was without injured Karim Benzema.
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Carlo Ancelotti commented, “It wasn’t our worst game of the season.” “It was a challenging game, as we expected, but that’s all there was to it. We won the league (1-2 in December), although it was a difficult win. This contest was close until the very final second.
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“With their effort, Athletic deserved it, but I don’t think we played our worst game of the season tonight.”
Despite the need for goals, Ancelotti’s replacements at San Mames were questioned after he left Luka Jovic, Eden Hazard, and Gareth Bale on the bench.
“Due to exhaustion, I replaced (Toni) Kroos with (Eduardo) Camavinga and Vinicius with Isco,” Ancelotti explained. “I was considering making changes for extra time, but they scored in the last minute,” says the coach.
When asked if Jovic, Bale, and Hazard had been frozen out, he replied, “Why would you talk about them?”
“Why not (Dani) Carvajal or (Dani) Ceballos? Not just those three, but everyone who didn’t play would have to be penalized. I made choices and chose not to use certain players.”