Real Madrid will be aiming to extend their 100% run in the new season when they lock horns with local rivals Atletico Madrid at the Civitas Metropolitano on Sunday night.
Currently seated at the top of the La Liga standings, the Merengues could lose their spot to Barcelona, who face Elche later today. And the reigning champions will need a win against their neighbours in order to go into the international break as the league leaders.
On the eve of the game, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti attended his customary pre-match press conference during which he discussed various topics ranging from Karim Benzema’s injury to the controversy surrounding Vinicius Jr’s celebrations.
“Benzema won’t be there tomorrow but he has started working alone,” Ancelotti confirmed. However, he did not give away who would start in place of the Frenchman, as he said: “I have an idea but I won’t say it.”
On Real Madrid’s form and momentum heading into the derby, Ancelotti said: “We arrived well, on a good run, against a strong rival, it is a special match and that is how we prepare for it.”
On the racist abuse against Vinicius Jr, he added: “He’s fine as usual, he wants to play and win this match. He and the club have issued a statement so now let’s talk about football, and it should be noted that in Spain I don’t see racism.”
On the derby: “It will be a competitive match. They don’t expect anything new and it will be a very competitive duel, a good football match because there are very good players on both teams. The match is open, but there is nothing definitive. rivalry is normal.”
On Antoine Griezmann’s peculiar situation at Atletico: “It sounds a bit strange but I don’t like getting into these discussions, every coach has to make decisions, Simeone and Atletico have been and are doing well in Spain and Europe.”
On Eder Militao’s availability: “He is ready to play and trained well. He can play from the start or play a few minutes of the game, I have to think about it.”
On Diego Simeone: “He has a great relationship with his players, he is able to build that bond and that’s an important part of being a coach.”
On Vinicius and the support he has received: “It’s something we don’t touch on in the locker room, these are topics that are not normally discussed in the locker room, we usually talk about football.”
“Racism is one thing, what happens on the field is another, there is a lot of talk about provocations, but racism is a much more important issue than what happens on the field. But we will not address the issue of racism, as Vinicius spoke well in his statement.”
On if he has any advice to Vinicius: “No, I’m not his father, I’m not his brother. I’m his manager.”
On the atmosphere at the Metropolitano: “I’m not worried, we’re going to play a football match, in the rival’s field and the pressure from the stands supporting their team is normal. Period. There’s nothing to say. We played against a rival strong and nothing else.”
On Rodrygo: “He has had more minutes and he is making the most of it. You have to be patient, keep improving, he’s taking advantage of his opportunity and learning from the players who have more experience. That helps him have more confidence.”
On Asensio’s call-up to Spain national team: “This is football, he is very happy to have been called up to the national team, he has the ability to go to the national team.”
On why Real Madrid perform better in the second half: “We use the strategy of the tiredness (laughs). The rivals think we are tired and we take advantage of it.”
Source: Real Madrid Twitter
Ancelotti talks Kroos, Modric, Bellingham, Vinicius ahead of Atletico vs Real Madrid
After escaping with a narrow 1-0 win against Union Berlin in the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid face a tough task this weekend as they travel to the other side of the Spanish capital to face their old pals Atletico Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have put in several solid offensive performances through the season so far, but have found it difficult to finish chances, often relying on Jude Bellingham to rescue the game in the last moments.
Their task will be much tougher against an Atletico side that is winless in two games and looking to get back up on the curb.
On them, Ancelotti commented, “Tomorrow’s game is an important one. Atletico Madrid area a strong rival. We can’t wait to play.”
Injury updates: Vinicius, Guler, Bellingham
Vinicius Jr has missed the last three games due to injury, but will be evaluated today to decide his participation tomorrow.
“He will be in the squad for tomorrow’s game,” Ancelotti updated the press. “We will decide tomorrow if he starts or not.”
He also said, “Vinicius has 100% recovered. Zero risks. He would not be in the squad for the game tomorrow, otherwise. We will see tomorrow.”
“He has not played for weeks, so he obviously lacks rhythm.”
As far as Arda Guler is concerned, the Turkish midfielder is yet to make his debut for the club, but is expected to join team training as early as Monday.
“Arda will start training with the team on Monday.”
Jude Bellingham left Madrid training early yesterday, which sounded some alarm bells at the club. However, Ancelotti confirmed that he will be playing tomorrow, and that there was no reason to panic.
“Jude Bellingham will play tomorrow.”
“I would not cry if he did not play. We have other players [laughs],” he joked.
Kroos, Modric, and rotations
Real Madrid have a star-studded squad, which means legendary midfielders such as Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are often left out of the starting lineup. The duo are reportedly unhappy with their role.
Ancelotti was asked about this, to which he replied, “It hurts to leave them on the bench. But only them, Valverde, Tchouameni, too. It’s always hard to leave a player on the bench.”
“They understand it because the competition is very high. I understand that a player comes out sad when he is substituted. But I do it to make the player more active.”
El Clasico vs Madrid Derby
Ancelotti was also asked to compare the Madrid derby to El Clasico, and which one he preferred more.
“There is no difference. We like to prepare for matches like these, to be champions, because there is a special tension. There is excitement and we want to win and be champions.”
“The Madrid derby is always a special game. A lot of quality between two rivals. Atletico played very well against Lazio,” he added.