Ancelotti On 'Important' Everton Attacking Ploy

Carlo Ancelotti says Everton boast the firepower to make set-pieces a potent weapon in their attacking armoury.

Manager Ancelotti has noted trends from Germany where set-piece goals have increased – and teams playing away are winning a greater percentage of games – following the Bundesliga's return in mid-May.

Centre-back Michael Keane scored twice from dead-ball deliveries in a practice match at Goodison Park on Saturday, as Everton prepare to complete the 2019/20 campaign behind closed doors – something Ancelotti concedes represents a step into the unknown for his players.

Strike pair Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are responsible for 12 of the 17 goals Everton have struck in 11 Premier League games under their Italian boss.

Ancelotti admits he would welcome additional scoring contributions from elsewhere on the field – albeit not at the expense of players focusing on their primary functions.

And he is conscious of Everton’s potential from dead-ball situations, particularly in light of set-piece goals – excluding penalties and direct free-kicks – increasing by 8.1 per cent in the opening five rounds of Bundesliga matches after the division's restart.

“We are working on this,” confirmed Ancelotti, speaking exclusively to evertonfc.com.

“Michael Keane is really good with his head and important for us on set-pieces.

“He scored two goals [in the weekend’s intra-squad game], which was important for him.


“But I prefer for a defender to defend, a striker to score and a midfielder to organise.

“I don’t want to have confusion!

“Of course, more goals from the midfielders will be important, too.

“We are working on this.

“Michael Keane scored twice… but for me it was more important he moved really well defensively in the game – this is the most important part, I think.

“But we have really good players in these [set-piece] situations: Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina.

“We score a lot of goals because we have this quality.

“We have players who can shoot really well like [Gylfi] Sigurdsson and [Leighton] Baines and [Lucas] Digne.

“Set-pieces are a really important part of our game.”

Ancelotti has managed at football’s top end for close to a quarter century following a gilded playing career with the illustrious Italian trio of Parma, Roma and AC Milan.

But the former Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid boss has never been confronted with circumstances comparable to those he is now encountering.


The 61-year-old admits it would be unwise to predict how players will respond to performing in front of empty stands.

He recognises, however, that home advantage is all-but-eliminated from the equation without fans in stadiums.

This is borne out in Germany where away teams won 47.8 per cent of matches in the five rounds after the restart, compared to 34.8 per cent prior to lockdown.

Games won by home teams dropped from 43.3 per cent to 21.7 per cent.

Additionally, of the nine matches contested in the 18-team Bundesliga last weekend, six were won by the away side and only one by the team playing at home, champions Bayern Munich bucking the trend.

Everton have claimed 68 per cent of their 37 points this term at Goodison and Ancelotti is undefeated in five matches at the ground.

He will take charge of his sixth Goodison fixture on Sunday when Everton restart their campaign following the coronavirus shutdown with a game against Liverpool.

“We would like to play the derby at home with our supporters, of course,” said Ancelotti, who managed AC Milan in a behind-closed-doors match at Atalanta in January 2008.

“This is an advantage for Liverpool, to play at Goodison Park without our supporters – and that is the same for any team going to play away.


“We are working to try to overcome this problem and to play a fantastic game.

“I didn’t speak with anybody in Germany but I have seen a lot of games.

“The intensity of the games is not bad, in my opinion.

“I saw Real Madrid on Sunday [Madrid beat Eibar 3-1 as La Liga became the second major European league to get back under way] and the game was really very good.

“The statistics [from Germany] are something you have to consider.

“There have been more injuries, for sure, and the away team has more possibility, I think.

“The crowd is the 12th man on the pitch.

“The fact you don’t have them supporting you will make it more difficult for the home team.

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09:51 Mon 15 Jun 2020

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“You have to consider how the players will react without supporters.

“For some players it could be better, for others with different characters it could be worse.

“I don’t know.

“How will we manage this type of situation? We will see.”

Everton’s clash with Liverpool ushers in a five-week period when the Blues will play nine matches and comes almost exactly one month to the day after players reported back for training.

The condensed preparation time persuaded Ancelotti to employ a measured approach to returning his squad to match fitness.

He added: “My experience said we didn’t need a normal pre-season.

“We need to prepare the team well and didn’t put a lot of charge in the training.

“This is a unique moment and I think the team will be in good condition for all nine games.

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03:39

'I FEEL PROUD TO BE PART OF SOMETHING THAT REALLY MATTERS'

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"The players all came back in good physical shape, without problems.

"But there was less possibility [during lockdown] to train in open spaces, they worked a lot on their strength but not as much on their aerobic fitness.

"This is the reason we had some injuries at the beginning. When we opened the space, there were more difficulties.

"But now, with two weeks of training in open space, their aerobic fitness is much better.

“Usually in pre-season you have friendly games but we didn’t have the time, so we didn’t put a lot of load on the players.

“But I do not think this [absence of practice matches] will be a problem.”