Madrid 'in a better position' than last year as Ancelotti talks up Tchouameni impact

·3-min read

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid are "in a better position" than at the start of their double-winning campaign last year, although he does not see any favourites for the Champions League at this early stage.

Madrid won LaLiga and the Champions League in 2021-22 after signing David Alaba on a free transfer and Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

Los Blancos' transfer activity has been similar again this year, bringing in Antonio Rudiger in defence and Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield.

But Madrid are also playing with the confidence of having achieved great success last season, starting the new campaign with a Super Cup win over Eintracht Frankfurt and three straight LaLiga victories.

"I think we're in a better position at the start of this season because of all that we achieved last year," coach Ancelotti said ahead of Saturday's game against Real Betis.

"I do expect a tougher league campaign and also in the Champions League. I don't think there is a clear favourite in the Champions League; we have to wait and see what happens in March and April.

"We have less doubts now than we did at this stage last year. I think we have a very good squad after the transfer deadline closed last night.

"We have options in every position, and we're definitely going to compete this season."

Madrid did lose Casemiro to Manchester United, but Tchouameni has started all three league matches at the base of the midfield in the position the departed Brazil international made his own at the Santiago Bernabeu.

While Ancelotti described Tchouameni as "the icing on the cake" for his squad, he has already taken on an integral role.

"I think he is the best player right now to play in that position," Ancelotti said of the new man. "Also, [Toni] Kroos and Camavinga could play in that midfield role – it depends on how we prepare for a game and how we need to play.

"Kroos could control the ball better, a great passer of the ball who sets the tempo of a game. If we need more energy and a more dynamic midfielder, maybe Tchouameni would be the better option.

"Camavinga has improved on last season, and Tchouameni has shown what he is capable of. He works very hard; I think he is a great signing. He is still very young, he still needs to progress.

"We have a great midfield; we have young players, energy, quality, intelligence, veteran players, players who are tactically astute.

"But I want to highlight it's not that important the three players who start, because you can change the entire midfield during the course of a game."

And Tchouameni's instant impact has not come as a surprise to Ancelotti.

"No, I'm not surprised," he said. "If we invest a lot of money in a player, which we did, you have to be sure that he's the player you want. Just look at what he's contributed so far.

"We're working on the defensive aspect of his game; he's a good defender, works hard, but also you have to work alongside other players, know how they work, how they play. That understanding comes with time.

"It's different when you're playing along Kroos and [Luka] Modric than if you're playing alongside Camavinga and [Federico] Valverde, for example. I don't foresee any problems, but it is different."