Real Madrid coach Ancelotti unhappy with Spain friendlies

The Italian is frustrated that members of his team were forced to fly to Africa to participate in international matches and criticises the RFEF for its scheduling
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has slammed Spain's friendly schedule, having seen many of his star players travel to Africa during November's international break.

La Roja played their last matches of 2013 against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa but, with injuries mounting at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Italian questions the benefit of long-haul travel mid-season.

"I think that the decision [to play in Africa] was not good because the players spent three nights on a plane," Ancelotti told the press.

"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 organisation 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 the Madrid boss is hopeful that 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 [on Saturday]."

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 play-off victory against Ukraine.

"[Varane] has a problem with his knee," he reported. "We are monitoring what's going on with the player and the surgeon. 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 at 100 per cent."