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Ancelotti defends stifling Italian-style defense

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm •  Published: April 28, 2014
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MUNICH (AP) — For Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, catenaccio is a beautiful word.

The term used to describe the kind of stifling defense long practiced by Italian teams where 1-0 wins at home and 0-0 draws away were the norm has no negative connotations for Ancelotti.

"Catenaccio is not a bad word," Ancelotti said.

Asked if Madrid may turn to catenaccio to protect its one-goal first-leg lead and frustrate Bayern, Ancelotti smiled and replied: "Sometimes, catenaccio is not bad. I am Italian and we won a lot with catenaccio."

Ancelotti was speaking Monday, on the eve of Real Madrid's return leg at Bayern Munich of their Champions League semifinal tie. Technically, catenaccio was not even a purely Italian invention. It was perfected by Helenio Herrera, an Argentine-born coach of Inter Milan.

Real won 1-0 at home, although Bayern dominated possession, especially in the first half. But Real struck on the counterattack and could have scored more goals.

Bayern's game, centered on as much possession as possible, has been vulnerable in recent games, not only in Madrid. In the last three Bundesliga matches, Bayern has conceded eight goals to teams using massive defense and fast breaks.

Ancelotti conceded that his team was under pressure at the start of the Madrid leg, although Karim Benzema finished off a swift counterattack for the only goal in the 19th minute.

"We don't need to be timid, we don't need to be afraid, so we will have to change something, especially at the start of the match," Ancelotti said.

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