Carlo Ancelotti's late substitutions paid off as Real Madrid secured a 3-1 LaLiga win over Sevilla on Saturday.

It had initially been a tale of two former Tottenham players as Luka Modric gave Madrid a quick lead on a wet night at the Santiago Bernabeu, before Erik Lamela equalised early in the second half.

Ancelotti's changes made all the difference though, as Lucas Vazquez restored the champions’ advantage just after coming on, with fellow substitute Marco Asensio involved in the build-up, before he also laid on an assist for Federico Valverde to seal victory.

The champions showed they could cope without Karim Benzema, who paraded his Ballon d’Or trophy on the pitch but was only a spectator due to muscular fatigue, as they moved six points clear of Barcelona at the top of the table.

Former Brazil forward Ronaldo admits he would "love" to see Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti take the reins of the Selecao, stating it would be a "historic" move.

With the Qatar 2022 World Cup set to start next month, Tite's side are bidding to break a two-decade European hold on the sport's greatest prize, led by talents such as Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.

But regardless of their ultimate tournament performance, the 61-year-old's tenure in charge could well be coming to an end, with pundits floating the Manchester City and Real Madrid bosses as potential successors.

In a country where the national team has always been led by a native, there is significant pushback to the suggestion of an outsider - but Ronaldo believes it could prove a watershed moment for the Selecao.

"I would love it," Brazil great Ronaldo told The Guardian. "A European not just with the Brazilian national team but the entire Brazilian football industry.

"A Pep or an Ancelotti could be historic, it could change our history for 100 years."

Brazil last won the World Cup at Korea-Japan 2002, and entered the 2014 edition - which they hosted - as home favourites, before a stunning 7-1 semi-final collapse against Germany.

As a squad headlined by Neymar - who is closing in on Pele's Selecao goalscoring record - prepares for their latest tilt however, Ronaldo sees no reason why they cannot break their barren run this time around.

"There's been a European dominance," he acknowledged. "France, Spain and Germany are always there. England produced a great Euros [campaign].

"But Argentina have gone 35 unbeaten. Brazil look very good, although that doesn’t count for anything.

"In Brazil, we want to win. Let's see what Tite does. He has options up front, very good ones.

"Vinícius has to start – he would start in any team in the world. On the right, Raphinha is playing incredibly, but we have Rodrygo, who would get in anywhere. Then there's Neymar. He's got the desire."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti believes Toni Kroos will extend his stay at the club beyond his current contract.

Kroos has been a core part of Los Blancos' success in the past eight years, lifting the LaLiga title on three occasions and clinching victory in the Champions League four times – including last season.

Now 32, and with fellow midfielder Luka Modric also in his twilight years, Madrid have looked to the future with the signings of Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, but Kroos remains crucial for Ancelotti's side.

The Germany international has started seven of Madrid's 10 LaLiga matches this season and, while his current deal is set to expire at the end of the campaign, Ancelotti expects him to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I've talked to him, he's very calm. He's going to think about it after the World Cup, in January or February. I think he's going to continue," he said in Friday's press conference ahead of the clash against Sevilla.

 

"His level is better than last year, he had physical problems at the beginning and then he did very well. He's at a very high level."

Kroos is set to represent Germany at the World Cup in Qatar, which begins next month, where Ancelotti expects to see matches played with a higher level of intensity compared to the usual post-season tournament.

"I think this part of the season helps, you can see a World Cup with much more intensity, they will reach the top," he added.

"In the previous ones they arrive exhausted to play the World Cup. Now they will arrive with a lot of energy."

Federico Valverde has joked he does not want to be responsible for Carlo Ancelotti's retirement, after the Real Madrid head coach issued him with a 10-goal target for the season.

The Uruguayan is already well on the way to that landmark after opening the scoring in the 3-0 win against Elche to take his tally for the campaign to six across all competitions, with the win marking Madrid's ninth in 10 LaLiga matches.

That goal sees Valverde equal the tally he had achieved in his first 148 matches for Los Blancos and Ancelotti is confident he will exceed the double-figure mark this term.

"He has to have that responsibility. We have a bet, I think he will score more than 10 this season," he told DAZN after the match.

"He's a very important player for us. The energy he has is incredible. He has to score 10."

Valverde is determined to hit that landmark and does not want to disappoint Ancelotti, joking that he will not be the reason for the retirement of the Italian coach.

"I'm focused on doing it. It's a nice pressure. I don't want to be to blame for the coach retiring," he told DAZN.

Madrid's victory against Elche came despite seeing three goals, all scored by Karim Benzema, disallowed by VAR for offside, with Valverde acknowledging the "weird" feeling of having an effort chalked off.

"You have to get used to it. It's weird, you celebrate the goal and you think you're comfortable. They cancel one, then another and then another," he added.

Federico Valverde has joked he does not want to be responsible for Carlo Ancelotti's retirement, after the Real Madrid head coach issued him with a 10-goal target for the season.

The Uruguayan is already well on the way to that landmark after opening the scoring in the 3-0 win against Elche to take his tally for the campaign to six across all competitions, with the win marking Madrid's ninth in 10 LaLiga matches.

That goal sees Valverde equal the tally he had achieved in his first 148 matches for Los Blancos and Ancelotti is confident he will exceed the double-figure mark this term.

"He has to have that responsibility. We have a bet, I think he will score more than ten this season," he told DAZN after the match.

"He's a very important player for us. The energy he has is incredible. He has to score ten."

Valverde is determined to hit that landmark and does not want to disappoint Ancelotti, joking that he will not be the reason for the retirement of the Italian coach.

"I'm focused on doing it. It's a nice pressure. I don't want to be to blame for the coach retiring," he told DAZN.

Madrid's victory against Elche came despite seeing three goals, all scored by Karim Benzema, disallowed by VAR for offside, with Valverde acknowledging the "weird" feeling of having an effort chalked off.

"You have to get used to it. It's weird, you celebrate the goal and you think you're comfortable. They cancel one, then another and then another," he added.

Carlo Ancelotti was not put out by Manchester City being named the team of the year in Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, saying last season's Champions League glory is proof of Real Madrid's standing.

Madrid finished third in the votes for the team award, despite winning LaLiga and the Champions League last season.

Liverpool finished as runners-up behind City, as they did in the Premier League. The Reds also lost to Madrid in the Champions League final, but won the EFL Cup and FA Cup last term. Indeed, Los Blancos also beat Pep Guardiola's side en route to winning their 14th European crown.

Ancelotti, though, insists Madrid – who won the Super Cup in August and are top of LaLiga after defeating Barcelona in Sunday's Clasico – are still the best.

He said in a press conference: "I don't know the criteria well, because they don't talk about the team. Madrid is the best team and that is why they have won the Champions League.

"I have all the respect for that award. We received the most important award in May."

Madrid did enjoy success on Monday, though, with Karim Benzema taking home the main individual prize after his stunning season in 2021-22, becoming the first French player to do so since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

Benzema, 34, led Madrid to their success, which came somewhat against the odds – at least in the Champions League.

However, when asked if had been surprised by his achievements since re-joining Madrid from Everton last year, Ancelotti replied: "No, I don't think so. What we have achieved so far has been very good.

"For me it is not so surprising, here you have everything to be successful: history, tradition, competition, quality of the players, atmosphere... At the beginning of last season I had many more doubts than now."

Benzema scored 44 times last season, a tally bettered only by Robert Lewandowski (50) of players in Europe's top-five leagues.

Next on the list after Benzema was Kylian Mbappe, who scored 39 goals for Paris Saint-Germain and appeared all set to join his France team-mate at Madrid until a late change of heart.

Reports last week claimed Mbappe now wanted to leave PSG, though he denied those rumours on Monday. 

Asked if Mbappe would deserve another chance to sign for the club, Ancelotti instead chose to hail the next generation already coming through at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"What is the future? I do not know. On a personal level, I don't know what can happen," he said.

"The future of this club and this team is already written with young players like Vinicius [Junior], Rodrygo, [Aurelien] Tchouameni, [Eduardo] Camavinga, [Federico[ Valverde, [Eder] Militao... who have already written the future of this team.

"The players change, but these players have shown what the future of Real Madrid will be."

Carlo Ancelotti challenged Karim Benzema to launch his bid for back-to-back Ballon d'Or awards when Real Madrid head to Elche in LaLiga on Wednesday.

French striker Benzema captured world football's most prestigious individual annual prize on Monday, finishing ahead of Sadio Mane and Kevin De Bruyne in the podium places.

He was the obviously outstanding candidate after starring – and often captaining – Madrid on their way to LaLiga and Champions League success last season.

The timeframe for the award has changed, shifting from a calendar year gong to one that celebrates achievement from August 1 to July 31.

The new system will continue, so early season efforts in 2022-23 will count towards next year's Ballon d'Or.

Benzema has made a steady start to this campaign, certainly not as eye-catching as Erling Haaland at Manchester City, whose goals could put him in the picture, despite Norway failing to qualify for the World Cup.

Now Ancelotti is urging Benzema to kick on, saying of his prize: "We are very happy. He said that he is very proud of this award and has thanked all his colleagues.

"We have to think about the next Ballon d'Or. He can start tomorrow."

Ancelotti said he felt "proud" of the 34-year-old and also Thibaut Courtois, who landed the prize for the best goalkeeper and finished seventh in the main vote.

Courtois questioned whether a goalkeeper stood any chance of taking the top prize. Lev Yashin, in 1963, is the only keeper to have laid his hands on the trophy.

Speaking after the awards, Courtois said: "It seems that it is better to score a goal than to save one. It is a battle that remains to be won. Seeing the logic of the vote, I had no chance of finishing very high, nor of winning it of course."

At least Courtois could join Benzema in celebrating individual prizes, with Madrid surprisingly pipped to the team award by Premier League champions Manchester City, who Madrid beat in the Champions League semi-finals.

Ancelotti, who will be without the injured Courtois at Elche, saluted Benzema's development into a talisman for the Spanish capital giants.

"He is a player who has much more responsibility and feels much more like a leader than he was eight years ago," said Ancelotti.

"Technically he hasn't changed much, because his technical quality is the same. What has changed is his responsibility and his attitude."

Madrid will hope to follow the individual success with another win on the road, having won all of their five away games so far in LaLiga this term.

They lead LaLiga by three points from Barcelona after winning Sunday's Clasico.

Elche, meanwhile, are winless in their last 12 matches against Madrid in LaLiga (D2 L10), since a 3-1 victory in March 1978.

Carlo Ancelotti heaped praise on Real Madrid for delivering a "complete match" as Los Blancos defeated Barcelona 3-1 in Sunday's Clasico.

Ancelotti's side have now won six of their past seven matches against Barca in all competitions, after goals from Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Rodrygo sealed maximum points at Santiago Bernabeu.

Los Blancos subsequently moved three points clear at the summit of LaLiga, while condemning their rivals to a first domestic defeat of the season.

And the Italian was pleased by the confidence and control demonstrated by his players. When asked what was the key to his side's victory, he told DAZN: "Everything. We had to make a complete match, and we did it.

"It is true that the beginning was good, we got ahead quite early and we controlled it well in the second half. We had a lot of confidence, with and without the ball.

"It was clear that [Eder] Militao had to put pressure on [Robert] Lewandowski. We controlled the players well between the lines with [Toni] Kroos and [Aurelien] Tchouameni."

Valverde scored the pick of the goals with his fine 20-yard strike doubling Madrid's lead in the 35th minute, while it was the first Los Blancos had scored at home against Barca from outside the area since Raul did so during the 1998-99 season.

After failing to find the back of the net in LaLiga last season, the Uruguay international has now scored four in nine appearances this term.

"I try to enjoy in each position, to give the maximum in each position," Valverde said. "I know that above, I can contribute with goals and assists, and in the middle with work and energy. I was able to score and I'm very happy.

"We knew it would cost. I think we worked well, we knew how to defend and suffer, and in attack, we came out quickly."

Xavi brought Jules Kounde straight back into Barcelona's team for Sunday's Clasico clash with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Kounde, a big-money signing from Sevilla, returned to training earlier this week after recovering from a hamstring issue sustained on international duty with France in September.

His return to the starting XI, which marks his Clasico debut, came at the expense of Gerard Pique, who was culpable for one of Inter's goals in Wednesday's 3-3 draw in the Champions League, which left Barca on the brink of an early exit from the competition.

Frenkie de Jong also came into the team, replacing Gavi, while Marcos Alonso made way for Alejandro Balde at left-back.

Xavi stuck with the same front three that started against Inter, with Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha flanking Robert Lewandowski, the latter two, like Kounde, making their Clasico debuts.

Lewandowski has scored six goals in eight meetings with Real Madrid, all in the Champions League, making him the player who has scored the most goals against Los Blancos in the history of that competition.

Sergio Busquets, meanwhile, will equal Francisco Gento (21 wins) as the player with the most victories in Clasico history in all competitions should Barca win.

Carlo Ancelotti was unable to call on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has failed to recover from injury in time to feature for the hosts, so Andriy Lunin retained his place.

Ancelotti was otherwise able to name what many would consider a first-choice XI, spearheaded by Karim Benzema, who has been involved in 20 goals in 38 Clasicos, a record only bettered by Lionel Messi in the 21st century (40).
 

Real Madrid will be without Thibaut Courtois for a Clasico clash that Carlo Ancelotti says is not "life or death".

Courtois has been sidelined with sciatica, but Ancelotti this week stated he hoped his goalkeeper would return against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Los Blancos head coach Ancelotti on Saturday revealed the Belgium international will not feature in a mouthwatering battle between the top two in LaLiga.

"Courtois is quite well, he feels fine. [But] he has trained very little and is not comfortable," said the Italian. "He is out for tomorrow.

"He will train more continuously next week. W''ll see for next Wednesday or Sunday, he just needs training."

Andriy Lunin is set to deputise for the former Atletico Madrid and Chelsea keeper once again.

Meanwhile, centre-back Antonio Rudiger will face Barca wearing a mask after he required stitches due to the clash of heads he suffered while scoring a late equaliser in the midweek Champions League draw against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Madrid and fierce rivals Barca are level on points with seven wins from eight LaLiga matches, with Xavi's side top on goal difference.

The champions have won five of the past six Clasico showdowns, but the Catalan giants hammered them 4-0 in their last meeting in the capital in March.

Despite the fine margins in the league table, Ancelotti says it is not essential to come out on top when they lock horns for the first time this season.

He said: "I haven't shown the players any videos to motivate them. They know their opponents well and last year's game won't affect it. This is another competition and another year.

"We hope to play a game that the whole world is going to see, and we want to show a good image and try to win it for our fans.

"It's a special game, but not life or death. The season is very long. Although it's clear that we would like to win."

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti expects goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to return from injury in time for Sunday's Clasico clash with Barcelona.

Madrid ruled Courtois out for an undetermined period at the start of the month when they revealed he was suffering from sciatica.

That came shortly after the most recent international window, meaning Courtois has not played for Madrid since the 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid on September 18.

He has missed three games in all competitions and will also be absent when Madrid go to Warsaw to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday.

But crucially, Ancelotti's first-choice goalkeeper is predicted to be ready for Sunday's top-of-the-table duel with Barca at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Courtois is much better," Ancelotti said on Monday.

"The plan is for him to start training on Thursday and be ready for Sunday. We have spoken with him and he is much better."

While Courtois will not feature in Poland, Karim Benzema is set to start.

The Frenchman was out for three weeks after sustaining a thigh injury in the Champions League win over Celtic last month before returning in the 1-1 draw with Osasuna on October 2.

Ancelotti acknowledged prior to the 1-0 weekend win over Getafe that Benzema was "a bit tired" and proceeded to leave him out for the short trip, but he will be back on Tuesday.

"Karim is fine and it's clear that tomorrow he starts, with [Toni] Kroos and [Ferland] Mendy, who are fresh and are going to play," Ancelotti said.

But Vinicius Junior, who has started all of Madrid's 12 games in all competitions this season, could be due a rest.

"Vini is one of the players that I have to evaluate because he has played everything before this trip. We have to evaluate him."

Carlo Ancelotti considered a "solid" defensive display cause for celebration as Real Madrid beat Getafe 1-0 to move above Barcelona at the LaLiga summit.

Los Blancos were far from their fluid best at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, but Eder Militao's third-minute header was enough to see them return to winning ways in the league after last weekend's 1-1 draw with Osasuna.

It was the first time Madrid had kept a clean sheet in eight LaLiga games this season, so Ancelotti was pleased in that regard, hailing his central defenders.

He was less enthused by Madrid in an attacking sense as they failed to add to their early opener.

"We were very solid and both Militao and [Antonio] Rudiger played a great game," he said. "We could have scored more goals, but at this point in the season that doesn't matter.

"Scoring early did not force us to be in a hurry, and we did not force our plays that much. We created many opportunities, but we did not score enough.

"The team has played very well, and we are satisfied. Last season here we were beaten, and today the team has been more solid.

"I asked the players not to risk passing late on and to ensure their passing was accurate because the score was very tight."

Madrid face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday, before a mouth-watering Clasico clash against Barcelona next weekend.

Ancelotti rested Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy for the short trip to Getafe, and the Italian head coach suggested he is likely to rotate his side for the midweek match in Warsaw against their opponents from Ukraine.

He is trying to avoid talking about the Barcelona game for now, but that fixture is taking on major significance given both teams have started strongly.

"I think the Clasico is still a long way off," Ancelotti said. "I've rested Benzema and Mendy, and it may be that on Tuesday I can rotate a little more."

Eden Hazard was an unused substitute against Getafe and has been limited to just 98 minutes of league action so far this season.

Ancelotti, however, said the former Chelsea winger will be called upon in the coming matches.

"Hazard is training well and will have his chance very soon," the Madrid head coach added.

Carlo Ancelotti acknowledges Karim Benzema is "a bit tired" following his return from injury, but has refused to rule out using the striker when Real Madrid face Getafe on Saturday.

Benzema missed three weeks after sustaining a thigh injury in the Champions League win over Celtic last month, returning to Los Blancos' side for last week's 1-1 draw with Osasuna.

The France striker crashed a late penalty against the crossbar in that match as Madrid dropped points for the first time this season in LaLiga, and also failed to impress in Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Benzema failed to score despite recording eight shots totalling 0.93 expected goals (xG) in that contest, and Spanish media reports had suggested he was doubtful for the trip to Getafe.

However, Ancelotti insists Benzema has not been ruled out of Saturday's game, saying: "Benzema has played two full games after being out for a month, he's a bit tired. 

"He's not ruled out. If he's fine tomorrow, he can play. I see the usual Karim, we don't have to worry. 

"It may be that he rests in Getafe, we'll see, we don't want to force anything."

Ancelotti revealed only two players had asked him for a rest during his long coaching career, adding: "The players are not so honest when they are tired. 

"I prefer that they tell me that they are loaded and avoid injuries, but it has only happened to me twice in 30 years: Pepe and [Clarence] Seedorf." 

If Benzema does feature on Saturday, he will look to extend a fine run of form on the road. The Ballon d'Or favourite has scored nine away goals in LaLiga in 2022, more than any other player, finding the net in six of his last nine away appearances.

Ancelotti offered a positive update on the fitness of Thibaut Courtois, who has missed Madrid's last two games due to a hernia issue, confirming he should be available for next week's Clasico meeting with Barcelona.

"Courtois is improving from his inflammation, it's getting better," he said. "We'll see if he gets to Warsaw [to face Shakhtar on Tuesday], but he'll be safe in the Clasico."

Ancelotti was also asked about the future of midfielder Toni Kroos, who is yet to sign an extension to his Madrid contract, which expires next year.

The Italian coach is relaxed about the situation, though, adding: "Kroos never gets angry, he never feels the pressure. Sometimes I ask him if he's nervous, and he always says no. 

"The renewal is in his hands, if he wants to renew, Real Madrid will be very happy."

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho says he is not thinking about breaking Sir Alex Ferguson's mark for winning the most European competition games during the Champions League era.

Mourinho matched former Manchester United boss Ferguson with 106 victories in the Champions League and Europa League when he led Roma past HJK 2-1 in the Europa League last month.

Only Carlo Ancelotti has more victories (120), with the era dating back to the Champions League's introduction in 1992.

Ferguson and Mourinho had a tense rivalry during the Scot's latter days at Old Trafford, spawning from the Portuguese's breakout stint at Porto before regularly locking horns during his first spell at Chelsea.

The Portuguese, who led the Italian club to Conference League glory last term, can surpass the former Manchester United manager when Roma take on Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday.

"It's not an extra motivation," Mourinho told reporters. "I am proud of the 106, and when the 107th arrives, either tomorrow or next week, I don't know, but when it comes it'll be a proud moment in my career.

"I've always said that I'll think about this kind of thing when I finish my career. When I finish my career I have so many things to think about and remember, but at this moment, no.

"Right now, the only thing that I am worried about is winning the next game, I'm always [thinking about] the next one and the next one is tomorrow.

"As I said before, it will certainly be difficult, it is a high-level game, very high. But there's no such thing as winning one more game than Sir Alex.

"This is not [why I want to win]. I want to win because we need to."

Mourinho has won 85 Champions League games and 21 Europa League games, compared to Ferguson's 105 wins in Europe's top club competition along with one UEFA Cup (Europa League) victory.

The former Inter, Real Madrid and Porto boss has two Champions League titles and two Europa League titles to his name, the latter with United. Ferguson, who retired in 2013, lifted the Champions League three times.

Ancelotti, who has won the Champions League four times, moved to 103 Champions League wins with Madrid's 2-1 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk, while he has 13 Europa League wins too.

Toni Kroos insists Real Madrid want to secure qualification for the Champions League knockout stages "as soon as possible" following victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The holders maintained their 100 per cent start in Group F with first-half goals from Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior sealing a 2-1 win at Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite converting just two of their 36 shots on goal, Madrid moved five points clear at the group summit after winning their opening three games in the competition for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign.

Los Blancos could book their place in the last 16 with victory over Shakhtar in the return fixture in Warsaw next week, which would be the ideal scenario for Kroos.

"The idea is to finish the group as soon as possible," the midfielder told Movistar+. "We have nine points out of nine, we have played three very good games, and we want another victory in Warsaw. 

"There are days when the ball does not want to enter, it has been a game to win 7-1 or something. But in the end, it is three points, and it has been a deserved victory.

"In the end, it's hard to believe we won only 2-1, but there are days like that. The ball will go in over the next few games."

Head coach Carlo Ancelotti warned his players against complacency after they were pegged back against the run of play by Oleksandr Zubkov's spectacular strike.

But the Italian was thrilled at seeing his side creating so many chances; Madrid only registering more shots on goal in a single Champions League match against Roma in March 2016.

"[I am] satisfied because I think we played very well; the front three combined very well in front, pressing more," Ancelotti added. "We have had many opportunities, but we have not succeeded. The important thing was to have opportunities.

"We have lowered the intensity [at 2-0 up]; we thought we were comfortable. I gave a call for attention at half-time because the game was not over.

"It's pretty normal that it can happen. We were playing very well, it seemed easy, but these were the dangerous matches. You get ahead of yourself. 

"I think it's important to leave this group behind next week, so we can focus on the league."

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