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Ancelotti talks Bellingham, Kepa, Lunin, Valverde, Rudiger, Kroos, Endrick ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be eager to stretch their lead atop the La Liga standings when they lock horns with Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening.

Los Blancos reclaimed top spot in the league table following their 3-0 win over Cadiz last weekend, which was coupled with rivals Girona and Barcelona dropping points.

Real Madrid backed it up with a 4-2 win over Napoli in the UEFA Champions League and will be eager to continue that momentum when they host Granada this weekend.

Ahead of the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti attended the press conference, where he discussed the injury and fitness issues plaguing the squad, among other things.

On Bellingham and Kepa

Heading up to tomorrow’s game, Jude Bellingham’s availability was cast into doubts after he did not complete today’s training session with the rest of the team.

But, Ancelotti confirmed that the midfield sensation is okay and ready to play against Granada, as he said:

“Bellingham is fit to play tomorrow. He will be fine and he will play the game. It’s just that he’s had some discomfort in his ankle.”

Praising the young midfielder, he added: “Bellingham is very respected in the team not only for the goals he scores but for the work he does.”

On his form, Ancelotti said: “We have never asked Bellingham to score goals. He has to continue like that and there will come a time when he won’t score goals.”

The Italian tactician also confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga has also recovered and will be available for the game, but insisted Andriy Lunin will keep his place in the starting XI.

“Kepa is available. He trained today and for the first time, he has been medically cleared. We will continue with Lunin, so Kepa will have a week to prepare for the match against Betis,” Ancelotti stated.

On the injuries that have rocked Real Madrid this season, he added: “The injury problem is a general problem because the calendar is very tight at this time of year. We have to hold on and it can be an opportunity for the players who have had less prominence so far.”

“The objective this weekend is to continue to show quality and efficiency in the game. The key to this run of form has been the team’s collective effort,” he said, looking forward to the game against Granada.

Bellingham and Kepa are available. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images)

On the squad and winter transfer plans

Discussing the team’s current form and the level of depth in the squad, Ancelotti said: “Who knows if there will be a slump in January or February? In football anything can happen and we can’t plan for that. We know it will come and the important thing is to be prepared.”

When asked if Real Madrid will try to sign a striker as a result of the injuries, he replied: “A striker in the winter transfer window? The approach the club has taken is fantastic and the results are proving it.”

Building up to the game, there has been some talk of whether Ancelotti might give some respite to players like Federico Valverde and Antonio Rudiger, who have been playing without a break.

Regarding Valverde and his role, Ancelotti said: “It’s difficult to say where Valverde contributes the most because he contributes wherever he is placed.

“As a winger, as an inside player, as a pivot. He is very complete. He contributes a lot in many areas. He puts in a lot of energy and he’s a key player for us.”

Praising Rudiger’s contributions this term, he added: “The truth is that Rüdiger has shown a very good attitude. We’ll see him tomorrow. He’s a perfect centre-back for us.”

There was more praise in store for Bellingham and how he has adapted to the team so well, as Ancelotti said:

“Bellingham’s adaptation to the dressing room has been very good. Entering the dressing room is quite easy because the ego level of this squad is very low and for the new players it’s much easier.”

“I didn’t see Di Stéfano play. I’ve seen Cruyff and Zidane play and I think I was as surprised with Bellingham as I was when I first saw Kaka. He has a lot of Kaka in him.”

Ancelotti also had some words of praise for Castilla youngster Nico Paz, who scored his first senior goal for Real Madrid against Napoli.

“I think Nico Paz is doing very well. He had his role and I’ve already said that the youth players who are with us are ready to play. I have to give priority to the first team but it’s good that they are with us at the moment,” he stated.

On his and Kroos’ future

Real Madrid have some players with expiring contracts at the end of the season, one of whom is Toni Kroos. On whether the German will continue at the club, Ancelotti said:

“Kroos’ decision on whether to stay or not is his decision. He is very much loved here and he knows it. He keeps playing as usual, he feels very good with all his team-mates.”

Ancelotti himself sees his contract expiring at the club, but insisted he feels like he is still in the ‘honeymoon period’ as he remarked:

“For me, it’s a positive moment. On a personal level, I feel a lot of affection from everyone but I have to be careful because the difficult or delicate moment will come and we have to be prepared.

“Yes, I’m still on honeymoon with Real Madrid. We are in a very good moment and I feel a lot of affection around me.”

Ancelotti also referred to Real Madrid’s future signing Endrick who continues to impress at Palmeiras, saying: “We are watching what Endrick is doing. He is progressing very quickly and we are delighted that he can be with us next season.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report



Photo by DESIREE MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.

The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.

Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.

This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.

Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia

Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.

With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.

Ancelotti to go with a makeshift central defensive pairing vs Valencia (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.

Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.

What are Ancelotti’s other options?

Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.

The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.

Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.

Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.

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