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Ancelotti talks Asensio, Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Rodrygo ahead of Espanyol clash



Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid will look to maintain their 100 percent record in the 2022/23 La Liga intact when they lock horns with RCD Espanyol on Sunday night at the RCDE Stadium.

Los Blancos have won their first two league games against UD Almeria and Celta Vigo in La Liga and have registered three victories in three, in all competitions if we count the UEFA Super Cup triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt.

And the reigning champions of Spain and Europe will be hoping to carry forward the same form and extend the run when they travel to Catalonia to face Espanyol.

On the eve of the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti addressed the media in his pre-match press conference, where he discussed the futures of exit-linked players like Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz while providing a fitness update on the squad.

“I don’t know anything new about Asensio, if there are good options for him and for the club, it can be evaluated,” Ancelotti said on the matter of Asensio, who is linked with Arsenal and Manchester United.

“If Marco leaves we are not going to sign anyone because we don’t need it,” he further added.

On the subject of Mariano Diaz, the Italian tactician said: “We count on Mariano, but he has the best striker in the world ahead of him.”

Dani Ceballos had also been linked with a summer departure, but Ancelotti confirmed that the midfielder will stay at the club, saying:

Dani Ceballos had also been linked with a summer departure, but Ancelotti confirmed that the midfielder will stay at the club, saying: “Ceballos is going to stay and we are happy about it, he is going to have more minutes because he deserves it.”

Along with Ceballos, Ancelotti also promised a bigger role for Rodrygo Goes, stating that the Brazilian will start more games than he did last season. “This year Rodrygo is going to have a more important role, he will play more games as a starter,” he said.

“We can replace him with Vinicius, we can try him with Karim as a striker or we can put him in Karim’s place,” Ancelotti added.

Providing a fitness update on the squad, Ancelotti confirmed that Toni Kroos has recovered from his flu and will be in contention, but ruled out three players from the game. “Kroos recovered well. Nacho and Odriozola are absent as is Vallejo, who had problems,” he confirmed.

Today marks the tenth year anniversary of Luka Modric’s transfer to Real Madrid and Ancelotti hailed the legendary midfielder, saying: “Modric has been a good signing for Madrid. His career has been very continuous and he has always played very well, with a very high level.

“He can still play for a long time because I see him fresh and highly motivated. I think he will continue for more seasons.”

The manager also spoke about the departure of midfield general Casemiro, who has joined Manchester United, as he said: “It is not just a technical problem, it is also the good relationship we had. When Casemiro left we felt sorry and sad. Today he is going to start his new stage and we wish him the best.”

Explaining his thought process to use Federico Valverde out on the wings regularly, Ancelotti said: “Valverde has shown that he can play on the wing, I don’t know if he has the quality to play there, but he has taken to the position very well and gives us a lot of energy there. He allows us to have more intense games.”

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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

For all the institutional and sporting catastrophes Valencia suffer from, they put up a resilient show against Real Madrid last month and held them to a draw in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup.

Having fired Gennaro Gattuso less than 48 hours ago, Los Che will be under the command of an interim coach at Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of repeating their feat from Saudi Arabia.

After all, they are struggling this season with just 20 points in 18 league appearances.

Valencia may not be the top team it used to be a couple of seasons ago, but there is a fighting spirit to the squad that makes them special.

As Real Madrid looks to make amends for their dropped points against La Real, some important considerations cross the manager’s mind regarding the clash against Los Che.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia.

1. More names at Ancelotti’s disposal

Real Madrid’s long injury list has been a thorn in Carlo Ancelotti’s feet for a long time now. While the manager has had close to five players unavailable through fitness concerns, two names were considered irreplaceable.

Daniel Carvajal is the first on that list. The Spanish International’s presence gave the club hope after Lucas Vazquez’s injury last month, but almost as if planned, the 30-year-old immediately suffered a blow in training and was forced to sit out.

For four games, Ancelotti was thus forced to field Nacho Fernandez as his right-back. The centre-back did a good job at covering out of position, however, will be pushed back to the bench on Thursday as Los Blancos celebrate the return of Carvajal.

The defender is not the only one making his way back, as Aurelien Tchouameni also received the medical all-clear earlier this week.

The French pivot hobbled off an hour into Real Madrid’s league clash against Villarreal in the first week of January and has been sidelined for close to a month.

His absence pushed his coach to try numerous permutations in midfield, but it was finally Eduardo Camavinga who stamped his authority on the position.

With Tchouameni back roaring, his place in the starting lineup seems to be written in stone. One can expect the Frenchman to be deployed alongside Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos for his return to action on Thursday.

2. Concern shifts from right to left-back

The Merengues will finally have a natural right-back available to play against Valencia midweek. However, that does not signal the end of the Italian tactician’s trouble-riddles period.

Just when one full-back position returned to a state of normalcy, Real Madrid now have a crisis at left-back.

Ferland Mendy picked up a thigh injury earlier this week and will miss the team’s next two months of action at least. To say that this is a big blow to the club’s plans would be an understatement, for Mendy was the only natural left-back available in the squad.

David Alaba would appear to be the best-placed alternative, but the Austrian is ruled out through injury himself. Placed at a lack of options, Ancelotti confirmed in his press conference earlier today that Eduardo Camavinga would play there against Valencia.

The youngster has played in the defensive position earlier but will face the heat going up against Jose Luis Gaya at Santiago Bernabeu.

Given that Valencia’s right flank put up a memorable display when the two teams met last month, one can be certain that Camavinga’s performance can make or break Real Madrid’s night.

3. No margin for error

Less than halfway through the league season, Los Blancos already find themselves five points behind Barcelona. The wide gap is not a consequence of the defending champions’ poor form but the sheer consistency of Xavi Hernandez’s men, who cannot stop winning.

Having won the Supercopa de Espana last month, the Catalans are currently riding high on confidence. With their season heading from strength to strength, Real Madrid must hold on and wait for the right opportunity to topple the tables.

The Galacticos‘ draw against Real Sociedad added two points to the gap between the top two sides last week. At this stage, Ancelotti’s men cannot afford any further slip-ups for a larger gap would be too much for the men in white to compensate.

Every game henceforth will be a final for Real Madrid in La Liga. Three points are the bare minimum the club can walk away with from any fixture, and that mission will start from their game against Valencia.

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