Competition Focus

Real Madrid Coach Ancelotti FC Barcelona Rival Xavi’s ‘Executioner’

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti discussed whether he feels like he is FC Barcelona counterpart Xavi Hernandez’s ‘executioner’ at a pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

The Italian levelled Zinedine Zidane as the club’s second-most successful head coach at the weekend, after matching the Frenchman’s haul of 11 trophies in the dug out.

There is always a loser as well as a winner, however, and that was the Catalans’ legendary former midfielder Xavi in this instance.

After ceding the Spanish Super Cup title in Riyadh through a 4-1 thrashing in El Clasico, Xavi’s days appear to be numbered if he cannot turn things round.

According to AS, he could even be dismissed in the coming days if the Blaugrana fails to get past Unionistas de Salamanca in the Copa del Rey last 16 on Thursday when Ancelotti’s men face Atletico Madrid.

Throwing away the chance to win two trophies in four days would be the last straw for president Joan Laporta, and Ancelotti was asked if he felt like Xavi’s “executioner” for putting a couple of nails in the 43-year-old’s coffin starting with October’s win in a league Clasico at the Montjuic Stadium.

“I don’t feel like Xavi’s executioner and I don’t put anyone on the ropes,” said Ancelotti, ever the gentleman.

“I respect every colleague and I know how complicated our work is. When things don’t go well, we’re always responsible. I wish him well and, as I have said before, he has all the tools to do well,” Ancelotti added.

Regarding Vinicius, who netted a half-hour hat trick against Barca, Ancelotti quipped that the Brazilian “is back to his best” after an injury “he needed a little time” to recover from.

“It’s true that he’s scored goals in quite a different way. He’s learning to play a little bit more inside [the pitch as opposed to the wing], and that makes him more dangerous. Now he’s less predictable by changing the position. He’s combining very well with Rodrygo.”

Ancelotti also revealed that he “liked what [Vinicius] said more than the three goals,” despite criticizing the winger and Jude Bellingham for unnecessary taunting of a well-beaten Barca through tricks such as backheels.

Vinicius confessed that he is not a ‘saint’ in a post-match press conference, but also that he is “here to improve and set an example for the kids who are watching me”.

“I want to get better,” the Rio de Janeiro native claimed.

As for Rodrygo, Ancelotti stated that he “will be able to play” in what he expects to be a more difficult match than the one that Madrid won against Atleti 5-3 in the Super Cup semi-finals.

“We have to think that we’re playing against a very strong opponent and I’m convinced that it will be a tougher game than in the Super Cup.

“It will be played by two teams that can win the competition. It’s a knockout match: we’re focused on this,” Ancelotti vowed.

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