Soccer-Real Madrid's grit got them to Champions League final, says Ancelotti

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Spain - LaLiga - Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - May 8, 2022 Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti REUTERS/Isabel Infantes

(Reuters) - Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said his team's performances were far from perfect on their journey to Saturday's Champions League final against Liverpool, but they managed to get there mainly thanks to their grit in the decisive moments.

"We haven't displayed exceptional quality in our play, but no one has beaten us in terms of commitment and motivation," Ancelotti told a news conference in the Spanish capital.

"Commitment and motivation is not enough to win it, but you have to have it in the final. No-one deserves to win a final, however - you have to earn it with what we do in the big game, not before."

Ancelotti said his team were "calm and motivated" ahead of Saturday's game and that Kylian Mbappe's decision to stay with Paris St Germain instead of moving to Real had not created a distraction in the locker-room.

He said that his players' experience, going into their fifth Champions League final in eight years, could also be an advantage.

"Some of the players could be teaching me how to play a final, they have played more decisive games than me," Ancelotti said with a smile ahead of his record-breaking fifth Champions League final.

"The locker room speech will be easy for me, I don’t even need to say anything for them. They know how to prepare better than most because of what they have lived through in the last years.

"The thing that surprised me the most is how humble and hard-working this group of players are even after so much success. They are ready, committed but really enjoying this moment."

Despite being the first coach to win European football's top trophy three times with different clubs and on the verge of leapfrogging Zinedine Zidane and Bob Paisley to become the first to win four, Ancelotti said this season it was harder for him to control his emotions in the final hours ahead of big games.

"I'm sweating a lot, my heart beat starts to accelerate. It's been a difficult process for me and I can't really explain why," Ancelotti laughed.

"It's hard because there is nothing you can do until the game starts. After kick-off, however, it all comes back to normal. But in that three hours before the game there are no pills or medicine that can change that feeling, you just have to deal with it."

The 62-year-old Italian boss said his team was in great shape and with no injuries or problems, meaning he has the full squad at his disposal on Saturday.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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