Ancelotti angered by Hazard & Bale benching questions after Real Madrid knocked out of Copa del Rey by Athletic Club

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has reacted angrily to questions of his decision to leave Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale on the bench for a 1-0 Copa del Rey quarter-final defeat to Athletic Club.

The Blancos, who savoured Super Cup glory against their Bilbao-based rivals in January, had been hoping to move a step closer to more major silverware on Thursday, but saw a late goal from Alejandro Berengeur dash their dreams.

Ancelotti opted against introducing Belgian playmaker Hazard and Wales international Bale when his side were looking for a breakthrough – with Luka Jovic another attacker that saw no game time – but the Italian has sought to defend his selection calls.

What has been said?

Quizzed on whether a trio of star forwards were being punished after struggling to deliver on a consistent basis for Real, Ancelotti said: “Why are you talking about Bale, Jovic and Hazard?

“Why don’t you talk about [Dani] Ceballos or [Daniel] Carvajal? They also didn’t play, so are they supposed to be punished as well?

“I took my decision, but if you were honest, you would talk about Ceballos who didn’t even play one minute and the others who were on the bench and didn’t play. They are all at the same level.”

The bigger picture

Hazard & Bale
Getty/el chiringuito

While Real will not be landing the Copa del Rey this season, they continue to sit four points clear at the top of the Liga table.

They are also preparing for a heavyweight clash with Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League, with that two-legged contest set to see them reunited with former Barcelona foe Lionel Messi.

With tough tests around every corner, Ancelotti is going to need everybody at Santiago Bernabeu to pull in the same direction.

Hazard and Bale have faced more injury struggles this season and have just one goal and a solitary assist between them in La Liga, but they remain proven performers at the highest level.

Both will feel as though they have something to prove, with Hazard continuing to see a move away from Madrid speculated on while Bale is due to drop into the free agent pool this summer.

Jovic is another to have seen questions asked of his future in the Spanish capital, with the Serbian striker registering just three goals for Real through 47 appearances.

It remains to be seen what role three underperforming assets have to play over the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign, with Ancelotti’s men due back in action on Sunday when they play host to Granada.

Further reading