Carlo Ancelotti has apologised for taking off Isco during Real Madrid-Villarreal but maintained “a Coach makes the changes he believes are best for his team.”
The attacking midfielder was surprisingly replaced by the more defensive-minded Asier Illarramendi in the final 10 minutes of the 1-1 draw on Sunday, despite Los Blancos in desperate need of a goal, which would have preserved their four-point lead atop La Liga.
“It was a game of two halves. In the first half we played with a very low tempo,” the Coach told reporters.
“We didn’t create many chances because our movement of the ball was too slow. We upped the tempo in the second half but still weren’t effective with the chances we had.
“These things happen in football. Sometimes it happens. It’s true that in the first half we played too slowly. We were quite the opposite in the second half.
“I don’t know if we were anxious but I know we had many chances [to score]. We weren’t lucky in the end. We had 24 shots at goal and only seven of them hit the target.
“[Villarreal] are a team with very good organisation and identity and always play a high-quality game.
“If [our poor performance] was a physical issue, our downturn should have happened in the second half, not first. We simply had difficulties.
“A Coach makes the changes he believes are best for his team. If the fans don’t understand [the changes] then I’m sorry but I made the change in order to give more balance to the team.
“Lucas Silva tried to work with [Toni] Kroos, but Villarreal handled the ball very well.
“I think the team are improving. We lost two points, but the League won’t be decided until the last game and we must enjoy [the rest of the season] because we have tough games [coming up.
“We weren’t impotent in front goal. We just didn’t have any luck. I don’t think it’s better to play on a Wednesday and Sunday.
“I think we worked very well this week but [the match] didn’t go well. I don’t think its a physical problem.”