Real Madrid will be aiming to build on their win over arch-rivals Barcelona last week when they take on Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night.
The Merengues are sitting atop the La Liga standings and will be eager to strengthen their grip on the position with another victory tomorrow.
On the eve of the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti spoke with the media during his customary pre-match press conference, answering a plethora of questions regarding the squad and injuries, among other topics.
Real Madrid will be returning to home comforts after close to a month and Ancelotti expressed his delight at playing at the Santiago Bernabeu again, saying:
“At the moment we have done well at home. It’s always going to help us. It’s our home and now we can play a good game and keep the lead.”
The Italian tactician then confirmed that new signing Arda Guler will finally be named on the squad list for the game after having put behind his injury problems.
“Guler started training with the team this week. Tomorrow he will be in the squad. Little by little, he’s going to get more and more minutes,” Ancelotti stated.
Giving an insight into the roles that Guler can play, Ancelotti added: “He is an offensive player. He can play as an attacking midfielder, as a centre-forward, and as a right winger with his left foot. He can also play as an inside player.”
While Real Madrid recover Guler, they will be without one of their key players in Aurelien Tchouameni, who suffered a foot injury during last week’s El Clasico.
When asked if Eduardo Camavinga was an option to replace the Frenchman in the defensive midfield role, the Real Madrid boss said:
“He is an option, yes. Sometimes we play with a double pivot in some games. He is the player whose characteristics are closest to those of Tchouameni.”
With three games coming up in quick succession, Ancelotti conceded that he will be making rotations in those matches, saying:
“There will be rotations in these three matches. But the priority is tomorrow’s game, which we are playing against a solid and very well organised team. The priority is to win tomorrow. After that we’ll see.
“It’s a time to make a big impact with these three games, in the league and in the Champions League.”
Jude Bellingham and Joselu are the top two scorers for Real Madrid, with the pair outdoing first-choice forwards Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo Goes.
On whether the Brazilians’ drought in front of goal is a concern, Ancelotti said: “Rodrygo and Vinicius are going to score more goals throughout the season. They will score more than Bellingham and Joselu. We have no doubt about that.
“The important thing is that when they are not there, there are Bellingham and Joselu, who are doing well. We are in no hurry in this respect.”
Ancelotti also reserved some words of praise for Bellingham, highlighting his consistency and work rate, saying:
“So far he hasn’t shown any faults. He doesn’t have to improve, at this level the important thing is continuity. What makes the difference in great players is continuity in matches. At the moment he has had it.
“I also highlight the work he does with and without the ball. His physical work is very high for a player with these characteristics.”
Ancelotti also provided an update on the fitness conditions of Dani Ceballos and Ferland Mendy, confirming that the pair will be unavailable tomorrow.
“Ceballos returns to work next week. Mendy hasn’t had an injury, just an overload and I think he will be ready for the match against Braga. Mendy is the main full-back and in some situations, Camavinga can also contribute,” he said.
Ancelotti also mentioned the performances of soon-to-be Real Madrid star Endrick in Brazil, stating: “We are seeing what he is doing. He is doing very well. He has a great future and potential and he’s progressing very fast.”
The Real Madrid boss also discussed the role and attitude of new signing Fran Garcia, who will be coming up against his former employers tomorrow.
“Fran García is doing very well. Whether he plays or not depends on the competition here. He has had less minutes with Mendy. He’s a full-back I like a lot and he doesn’t have to change his attitude,” Ancelotti said.
“Nastiness is a concept that I don’t like very much. I like that he has this attitude because it’s very positive in the dressing room.”
Commenting on the La Liga title race, which is very close this season, with Girona, Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona in the mix, the Real Madrid boss remarked:
“It’s going to be a very competitive season in La Liga this year. We are going to fight until the end against Barcelona and Atlético and let’s see what happens with Girona. We are going to fight until the end for the league.”
Real Madrid summer signing set to return to training soon – report
Real Madrid’s main goal heading into the summer transfer window was to wrap up the signing of Jude Bellingham amid massive interest from Premier League giants such as Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea.
Pep Guardiola’s City, especially, were ready to match and increase any salary Madrid offered, and were going strongly into the bidding war.
Eventually, Bellingham decided to join Madrid after they reached an agreement with Borussia Dortmund for €3 million.
However, following this, los blancos had to improvise a fair bit as Karim Benzema decided to leave the club to join Al-Ittihad on a free transfer. They were expecting him to continue for another season, at least, and it stumped their plans in the market.
In the next few weeks, Madrid chased forwards, and ended up signing Joselu, Brahim Diaz, and a certain Arda Guler, who was close to Barcelona before eventually ending up at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Unfortunately for Madrid, he is yet to play a single minute for the club after picking up a serious injury in pre-season. Despite being on the bench for a couple of games, Guler suffered a relapse in training, and was sidelined again.
Now, reports from Yagiz Sabuncuoglu say that the Turkish international is close to returning to team training.
Guler has slowly, but surely, been recovering from his injury, and could take to the pitch for his first minutes with the club in the next few weeks as Madrid look for solutions after a month full of injuries.
With Vinicius Jr, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, Eder Militao, and Thibaut Courtois all out until early 2024, Madrid have relied on Castilla for reinforcements, but could do with Guler’s services in their forward line.
That said, Carlo Ancelotti and co. are expected to be extremely cautious when it comes to the Turkish international. The slightest spell of poor man-management here could make or break the youngster’s career.