Carlo Ancelotti believes the high-pressure system favored by Liverpool has worked to Real Madrid’s advantage as the hosts secured a safe passage to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Karim Benzema scored the only goal in Wednesday’s round of 16 second leg to end Madrid in a 6-2 aggregate win that has knocked Liverpool out of the competition for three consecutive seasons, including last season’s final.
The damage was eventually done in the return leg at Anfield three weeks ago when Madrid scored five goals in 46 minutes to recover from two conceded goals to take control of the draw.
Liverpool had several chances at the Santiago Bernabéu, but Madrid tested Alisson five times before Benzema inflicted the Reds’ biggest ever defeat in a two-legged European fixture.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have been helping the hosts to control the game, and Ancelotti attributes this to Liverpool’s style of play, which has brought many successes and trophies to Anfield in recent years, but has not been as effective this season.
“High pressure has cost them dearly because Modric and Kroos are very good at this type of matchup,” Ancelotti told Movistar+.
“They are not afraid and know how to hit the ball from behind. It costs [Liverpool] In this sense.”
Madrid reached the quarter-finals for the 19th time in Champions League history, one more than La Liga rivals Barcelona, and lost only to Bayern Munich (21 times).
Ancelotti opted not to make any substitutions until Benzema’s 78th-minute breakthrough despite having a trip to Barcelona on Sunday, where the Italian explained he feared Liverpool would find a way back to a draw.
“The team was fine. There is no need to change for the sake of change,” he said. “I wanted to leave substitutions to stop the game if we have problems at the end.
“I liked the team. On a psychological level, in a game like this, when you have a three-goal lead, you can lower your level…but we didn’t lower it today.”
Madrid rejected a late penalty appeal after watching VAR in stoppage time after Kostas Tsimikas hit the target, but Ancelotti had no complaints about the decision.
Asked about his conversation with Klopp at the end of the game, Ancelotti said: “We agreed that this was not a handball. We talked about yesterday’s penalty against Leipzig in [Manchester City] a game.
“You have to be careful with such decisions because this is not football. I don’t think anyone noticed that it was a penalty, even [Pep] Guardiola.”
Ancelotti will take charge of a Champions League quarter-final for the 13th time, ahead of Manchester United great Alex Ferguson and equaling Guardiola (13) of all managers.