Why Asensio took Real Madrid penalty instead of Rodrygo as Ancelotti explains big decision that backfired vs Mallorca
- Defending champions beaten 1-0
- Missed second-half spot-kick
- Goalkeeper picked up injury
WHAT HAPPENED? The Blancos were without Ballon d’Or-winning striker Karim Benzema for their latest La Liga outing, while the likes Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were only named on the bench and were not on the pitch when Madrid were awarded a penalty on the hour mark. Spain international Asensio stepped up, only to see his effort saved, with the decision taken not to pile pressure on Brazilian youngster Rodrygo following his shootout heartache in a 2022 World Cup quarter-final clash with Croatia.
WHAT THEY SAID: Ancelotti told reporters of the decision to give spot-kick duty to Asensio: “I picked the taker because Benzema, Modric and Kroos were all off the pitch at that point. It was between Asensio and Rodrygo and we thought that Rodrygo might be a little mentally affected from his miss in the World Cup.”
Explaining why long-serving midfielders Kroos and Modric were only included among the substitutes against Mallorca, Ancelotti added: “Toni was a little bit injured after the Valencia game. With Luka, he’d played less than 72 hours ago, so I didn’t want to risk him.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: A frustrating outing for Madrid against Mallorca also saw them lose talismanic goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to injury before a ball was kicked, with Ancelotti saying when asked for an update on the Belgian shot-stopper: “Courtois had a problem in the warm-ups and we’ll have tests tomorrow to see exactly what the issue is. We know it was bad enough that he wasn’t able to play in this game.”
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WHAT NEXT? Defeat for reigning champions Madrid has left them second in the Liga table, five points adrift of Clasico rivals Barcelona with the Blaugrana boasting a game in hand.