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Ancelotti talks Camavinga, Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos, Arribas ahead of Athletic vs Real Madrid

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be aiming to get back to winning ways in La Liga when they take on Athletic Club at San Mames on Sunday night.

Los Blancos lost their last league game against Villarreal, following which they also fell to Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup finals after seeing off Valencia in the semi-finals.

They come into Sunday’s game on the back of a comeback 3-2 win over Villarreal in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 and will be aiming to build on that victory.

Having already fallen three points behind leaders and arch-rivals Barcelona, the current champions cannot afford any more slip-ups in the Spanish league.

Ahead of this tricky encounter against Ernesto Valverde’s men in the Basque country, manager Carlo Ancelotti addressed the press and spoke about various topics from injuries to transfer rumours.

On the reaction during the Villarreal clash: “The reaction in Villarreal was very good. We played effective football, but we made mistakes too. We looked at videos to avoid those mistakes and not repeat them. Tomorrow’s game is very difficult, intensity and ideas will be important, and not to give away what we’ve been giving away.”

On Luka Modric and toni Kroos: “For me, they are all untouchable. Modric and Kroos have made club history. But that doesn’t mean they have to play every game.”

On Nacho, Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio’s situation: “Nacho, Ceballos and Asensio can start the game or be decisive in the game. Their contracts are up and they show that they have motivation and desire, and concentration. The fact that their contract is up doesn’t affect them in any way.”

On Eduardo Camavinga’s links to Arsenal: Camavinga is untouchable, like Modric and Kroos.”

On Aurelien Tchouameni attending an NBA game while injured: “Tchouameni has made his apology public. He made a mistake and the matter is over with.”

On the team’s defensive errors: “We have some errors in positioning and reading, sometimes we don’t press and we have time for it, sometimes the line is not together. Sometimes we go out to press when we shouldn’t go out.

“Our area is a friend, it’s not an enemy, that’s what I tell the players. We have to control our area well. Anything that can get behind the line can be a danger, so controlling it well is fundamental. Before pressing, we have to control the back line well.”

On drawing Atletico Madrid in Copa del Rey: “The draw is like that, Atlético are a great rival, we have to respect them a lot. It will be entertaining because it’s a derby. All derbies are great.”

On Ernesto Valverde: “Valverde is a good friend of mine, we have a good relationship and he is a great coach. His teams always have a very clear idea, they are organised. I have a lot of respect for him.”

On Sergio Arribas: “Arribas lacks nothing. He has to progress like all young people. We evaluate everything. If the opportunity comes, he can play.”

On the injuries in the squad: “The team, little by little, with the games, is improving its physical condition, it is making progress. Carvajal, Alaba and Tchouameni can return next week.”

Source: Real Madrid Twitter

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Features

Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia

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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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