La Roja played their last matches of 2013 against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa over the last week, but with injuries mounting at the Bernabeu, the Italian questioned the benefit of long-haul travel midseason.
“I think that the decision [of the Spanish Football Federation] was not good because the players stayed three nights in a plane,” he said at a press conference. “It is difficult to talk about this. We are fortunate that there are no more national team matches until March. Luckily we have not had a problem. Improved organization can help teams avoid injury.”
One casualty of the international break was midfielder Sami Khedira, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament during Germany’s 1-1 draw with Italy and is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but Ancelotti feels his side can cope with his absence.
“[Asier] Illarramendi and Xabi [Alonso] can play together. They have played many times as a double pivot and had no problems,” he explained. “Casemiro has also not played since September, but he’s at optimal fitness and is well motivated. We can use him, or an Illarramendi-Alonso double pivot, or Casemiro-Alonso, or Alonso and Isco. I'll decide tomorrow.”
The 54-year-old also touched on the fitness of Raphael Varane, who was hampered by a knee problem during both legs of France’s playoff victory against Ukraine.
“He [Varane] has a problem with his knee. We are monitoring what’s going on with the player and the surgeon,” he said. “It is normal for a player who has suffered these types of injury problems, but we need to fix it because we need him back 100 percent.”
- Sports & Recreation
- Spanish Football Federation