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Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti post match interview

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has denied claims that he is punishing Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale or Luka Jovic by limiting their minutes.

The trio, who have all been fringe players this season when healthy, did not play a single minute in Thursday’s Copa del Rey defeat at the hands of Athletic Club.

Marco Asensio is playing a false nine role, and impending free agent Isco is coming off the bench ahead of them.

Bale was even spotted laughing on the bench when Ancelotti instructed Hazard to sit back down late in the game.

Watching on as the boss only made two substitutes in the game, which Real lost courtesy of an 89th-minute strike from Alex Berenguer.

Following the game, Ancelotti was immediately asked why none of Bale, Hazard or Jovic made it to the pitch.

And whether he was ‘punishing’ them, but the boss dismissed suggestions he had anything against the players.

“I had changes left; I was thinking of making them in extra time,” he said.

“Unfortunately, they scored at the end of the game, and I didn’t have time to cut other players.

“I have nothing else to say. Why do you talk about [Bale, Hazard and Jovic] and not about [Dani] Ceballos or [Dani] Carvajal? There is nothing.

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“I have made decisions that have not involved these players.

“But to be fair, you should talk about Ceballos and [Jesus] Vallejo, who hasn’t played a single minute either.

“It was a challenging game. We won the league game, but this one was more difficult. The game was even until the last minute.

“For their effort, Athletic deserved it, but I don’t think this was the worst game of our season.”

Bale will be leaving the club in the summer when his contract expires.

Meanwhile, Real will add Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic to this summer’s transfer list.

 As Real plot big-money moves for both PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland.

What lies ahead for Real Madrid?

They will be facing Granada at home in La Liga.

Likewise, for more football news like this, click here.

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