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Ancelotti talks Benzema, Kroos, Courtois, Hazard, Vinicius ahead of Osasuna vs Real Madrid



Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Real Madrid will be locking horns with CA Osasuna away in Pamplona on Saturday as they look to cut down the gap to La Liga leaders FC Barcelona.

The Merengues head into the weekend clash on the back of an impressive 4-0 win over Elche earlier this week. And the current champions will hope to register another win this weekend so that they can keep up the pressure on Barça, who will be facing Cadiz on Sunday.

Real Madrid, however, will also have an eye on the crucial UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg contest against Liverpool next week.

And, manager Carlo Ancelotti addressed the media today to discuss the team’s injury situation, his plans for Osasuna and Liverpool matches and whether he plans to rest Karim Benzema.

On the game against Osasuna: “It’s going to be a difficult match in which we have to have attitude. The team is in a good dynamic and we will fight tomorrow.”

On team news: “Karim won’t be here tomorrow. He has a bit of fatigue and hopefully he will be on Tuesday. Kroos won’t be here either because of flu but Courtois and Hazard are back.”

On the controversy surrounding Barcelona’s payment to former referee: “I’m focused on the games, nothing more. Do people doubt the competition? That wouldn’t be good. Sport must always be clean. And for that, we must all collaborate. I have nothing to comment on.”

On Alvaro Rodriguez: “He’s doing well, yes, he hasn’t been in the squad because he was in the Copa Sudamericana U-20 but tomorrow he’ll be in the squad. He has a lot of quality. He’s a profile we don’t have: he’s tall and has a good head.”

On the La Liga title race: “The objective is to keep putting pressure on Barcelona. To reduce the deficit. You know that the calendar is very demanding and we have to get to this moment with a good feeling and we seem to be doing well. But football is a game in which you can go from good to bad straight away and the other way around.”

On managing Benzema’s fitness: “After the World Cup he has done very well. He has scored in almost every game. And he is not injured: we simply prefer, because of his age, to give him rest.“

On the UCL clash against Liverpool next week: “The hours spent on Tuesday’s game are zero so far. I’m dedicating 24 hours to tomorrow’s game. It’s a very important game to close the gap on Barcelona. I’m not thinking about Tuesday’s line-up but about tomorrow’s and it could even be the same.”

On his favourite XI for tomorrow: “I’m not telling you the favourite eleven (laughs) but I have to evaluate all the games. Vinicius is coming back and he’s doing very well and can be very dangerous.”

On Luka Modric’s role: “I have spoken to him about this. He prefers to start the game and tomorrow he will start the game.”

On resting Benzema: “We don’t want to take risks with Benzema because he is tired and it can be risky. If tomorrow’s opponent was Liverpool, he wouldn’t play either.”

On a possible change of formations: “We have to adapt to playing 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 but that depends on the games and how we can do it. From a very clear 4-3-3 system, we can switch to 4-4-2 if Vinicius jumps into the midfield.”

On whether Rodrygo will start: “Yes, tomorrow Rodrygo will start.”

On how to cut down the 8-point gap to Barcelona: “We have to think that the next game is the last one and that is what we are doing.”

On who is the best coach of the year: “We are three coaches who have been successful. All three (Ancelotti, Guardiola, and Scaloni) have a chance and deserve it. And whoever doesn’t win will have to congratulate the winner.”

On whether Vinicius and Rodrygo are competitors for the left wing: “No. It would be crazy if I put Rodrygo and Vinicius in competition. What can happen is that sometimes we can play in a 4-4-2 with Vinicius and Rodrygo up top.”

Source: Real Madrid Twitter

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid midfielder trained away from the group last week, but has no injury – report



Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

With the international break underway, several Real Madrid players have been called up for national team assignments. The stars who have not travelled for international duty have continued to work at the club’s Valdebebas training facility to prepare for the restart.

Toni Kroos is one such player who has remained in Madrid, having retired from international football back in 2021.

However, there had been concerns growing around the 33-year-old’s physical condition as he regularly did indoor work last week and was not spotted in group training with his teammates.

Now, Sergio Quirante has come up with an update on Kroos’ situation, stating that even though the midfielder largely did individual work inside the facilities over the last week, he is fine and has no injuries.

Taking advantage of the international break, the former Bayern Munich superstar is understood to have gone through an individual program to prepare for the final, decisive stretch of the 2022/23 season.

Kroos not being injured comes as a big positive for Real Madrid, ahead of important games against Real Valladolid and Barcelona within the first five days of April.

The rest of the Real Madrid midfield contingent – Luka Modric, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, Federico Valverde, and Dani Ceballos – are all away on international duties and could return with some fatigue from the travel.

So, it is important that Kroos is fully fit and ready to go as Real Madrid look to cut down the gap to the top of the table in La Liga and also make it to the finals of the Copa del Rey by overturning a first-leg deficit against Barcelona in the semi-finals.

Kroos has played 37 matches this season, chipping in with two goals and five assists in the process. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, it is still unclear whether he will renew or hang up his boots.

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