Real Madrid will be aiming to extend their 100 percent record in the 2022/23 La Liga when they face off against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.
The Merengues have won three in three so far, beating UD Almeria, Celta Vigo and RCD Espanyol, and are sitting at the top of the La Liga table.
And, manager Carlo Ancelotti will hope that his team carry the momentum forward and pick up another victory over Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Ahead of the game, the Italian tactician attended the press conference (h/t MARCA) during which he spoke about several topics, including the roles that some exit-linked stars like Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard would play now that the transfer window is closed.
It will be Real Madrid’s first home game of the new La Liga campaign, and Ancelotti welcomed the opportunity to play in front of their own supporters again, saying:
“Good feelings. We have had good times at the Bernabéu last year and we hope it is the same this season. It is a difficult game against an opponent who are going to compete. Let’s see if it works out for us.”
Talking about the favourites tag stamped on Real Madrid, he said: “We are favourites because of what we did last year. It will be a more competitive La Liga and the same in the Champions League.
“There is no favourite. For our part, we have fewer doubts in this period than last year. The transfer market is over, we have a very good squad. We are going to compete and fight.”
Speaking of the situation of Eden Hazard, Ancelotti said: “He is working well and will have a more important role than last year. After these three games, you can’t make an evaluation.”
On the adaptation required in midfield after Casemiro’s departure, Ancelotti insisted that Aurelien Tchouameni is best suited to the role, but backed other players to fill the void left by the Brazilian’s departure.
“By characteristics, Tchouameni is the most suitable player for that position, but Camavinga has played there and Kroos is very reliable.
“It will depend on how we play the games. Kroos is very clean in the passes. If the match is less controlled we will need energy and there are Camavinga and Tchouameni.
Further praising the new signing, the manager added: “Tchouameni is an extraordinary signing. He is young and has to learn. We have the youth, the energy, the intelligence and the positioning. The problem is to choose the three that will start the game.”
Marco Asensio had been heavily linked with an exit all summer long but has ended up staying put. And Ancelotti insisted that the Spaniard will have a role to play in the team.
“Last year he helped us and this year it is going to be the same. He is going to have his chances and he is going to deliver,” he said.
Ceballos was another player who had been tipped to leave, but opted to stay at the Bernabeu. And the manager expects the midfielder to play an important part in the team’s journey this term.
“Ceballos knows that he is going to play an important role because of his quality and that is why he has decided to stay. We like him as a player because he completes a very good midfield with his characteristics,” he said.
The manager also insisted that club veterans like Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Nacho will be given short-term contracts as long as they wish to continue as Real Madrid players.
“Their future is very clear. If they want to stay they will stay here until the end of their career. Same for Kroos and Nacho. This is what the club wants.”
Ancelotti also spoke about the difference between the Premier League and La Liga, following the former’s enormous spending in the summer window.
“The Premier League has come a long way with the sale of television rights, it has beaten the other Leagues, there is a good atmosphere, without violence, the atmosphere is very good, with a fully functional stadium.
“They have an advantage and the objective of the others has to be to improve these aspects above all.”
UFC Champion to kick off Real Madrid vs Sevilla, sends message to Mbappe: “Lucky to play for the best club in the world”
Coming on the back of his triumph at UFC, Featherweight champion Ilia Topuria has announced he will take honorary kick-off in the upcoming Real Madrid vs Sevilla in La Liga this weekend.
Topuria confirmed this in a recent press conference in the Spanish capital this midweek.
A self-proclaimed Madridista, Topuria expressed his deep connection with the club and even sent a message to Kylian Mbappe, who is widely expected to join the club on a free transfer this summer.
Ilia Topuria: A hardcore Madridista
Ilia Topuria did not hold back his affection for Real Madrid, stating, “For me, the team that represents the values of Spain the most is Real Madrid.”
The Georgian-Spaniard UFC champion went on to confirm that he will meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off.
“I’m going to meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off,” he said (h/t Mundo Deportivo).
Although born in Germany, Topuria made Spain proud last Saturday when he beat Alexander Volkanovski in the second round. In the process, he became the first fighter from Spain to capture a UFC belt.
Topuria’s triumph has granted him overnight success in Spain, with the 27-year-old even becoming a cultural icon for many.
Topuria’s message for Mbappe
Other than professing his love for Real Madrid, Ilia Topuria also had a message for Mbappe.
When asked about the Frenchman potentially joining Real Madrid this summer, he said, “Welcome. He’s lucky to play for the best club in the world.”
Real Madrid, for their part, also congratulated Topuria on his triumph. “Congratulations on your historic triumph for Spanish sport, Ilia Topuria. We are proud that a great Real Madrid fan like you becomes UFC world champion,” the club posted on X.
Real Madrid fans, meanwhile, will be excited to witness Topuria taking the honorary kickoff as Los Blancos take on Sevilla this weekend, with three crucial points on the line.