Carlo Ancelotti defended Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos after Real Madrid's slipped to a 2-1 Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat by Juventus.
Bale made just 18 touches and 32 passes - two statistics beaten by Real goakeeper Iker Casillas - while Ramos was deployed in midfield but disappointed on the ball for the European champions as a determined Juve won through a Carlos Tevez penalty.
On Bale, who was substituted shortly before the final whistle, Ancelotti said: "Bale was tired; he's just come back from an injury and he's just too important for us.
"He's our most dangerous player and because he was tired, I preferred not to take any risks and I took him off."
Ancelotti also backed Ramos, insisting the 29-year-old had done a good job defensively.
"We did make more mistakes than we usually do, not just Sergio, but at the back we had more trouble because Juve put us under lots of pressure," he said.
"But Sergio did a good job as he has done in the past games.
"We played well in some parts, we played some good, patient football and we have had some chances.
"We set out to win this game, the result is not good but not bad either."
Ancelotti insists his players lost patience in the game, and despite coming back into the clash through Cristiano Ronaldo's equaliser, could not take the lead the lead either side of half time.
"The game could have gone better. We tried but not always with the correct quality or efficiency.
"We tried to have control of the game. We had bad luck as well because we could have scored to make it 2-1 but instead we conceded. It does not leave us happy but we still have the confidence that we can come back.
"We lost patience. The game did not start well, we left space between the lines which cost us a goal. Then we played well, but we could not continue."