Soccer-Ancelotti angry at 'absolute nonsense' calendar

Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - Round of 16 - Elche v Real Madrid - Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, Elche, Spain - January 20, 2022 Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti REUTERS/Pablo Morano

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hit out at the fixture schedule after his team beat Elche 2-1 in extra time on Thursday to reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, their third knockout game in eight days.

Real had to travel to Saudi Arabia to play in the Spanish Super Cup, which they won by beating Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

"What do you want me to say? There is a calendar which is absolute nonsense," Ancelotti told reporters.

"It is inevitable that it has to change, I hope those who do it wake up and make a calendar that is fairer."

It was the second Real Madrid game that went to extra-time in eight days after they beat arch-rivals Barcelona 3-2 in the Super Cup semi-finals.

Ancelotti rested several first-team regulars against Elche.

"It's a big accomplishment winning the way we did at Elche. I'm very happy," the Italian said. "I think it was the game that gave me the most joy to win this season because the team showed a lot of character, a lot of strength.

"You can talk about the difficulties, but you have to highlight the character of this team."

Ancelotti praised Isco and Eden Hazard who scored the two Real goals after coming off the substitutes' bench in extra-time.

"I'm very happy for them. They haven't had many minutes. Today we needed them, we knew it could be a long game. And they won the game for us," Ancelotti said.

"I know I can count on them. I have a group of players that has everything. They never give up, have an extraordinary character."

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Ed Osmond)

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