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Ancelotti talks Carvajal, Kroos, Nacho, Mendy, Zidane, Xavi ahead of Real Madrid vs Barcelona

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid will be gunning for their first trophy of the 2023/24 season when they lock horns with arch-rivals Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final tomorrow in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Real Madrid got past Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals beating them 5-3 after extra time to secure a place in the finals while Barcelona defeated Osasuna 2-0 to set up a Clasico date for tomorrow.

Real Madrid faced Barça in the Spanish Super Cup final last season and were beaten convincingly, something that Carlo Ancelotti & co. will be eager to avoid tomorrow.

On the eve of the game, manager Ancelotti spoke to the media in his customary pre-match press conference discussing several topics, including the fitness of some of his star players.

Given that Real Madrid played 120 minutes against Atleti on Wednesday night, fatigue might become a factor tomorrow. And when asked about the physical condition of his players, Ancelotti said:

“We’re fine, we’re calm. The team is motivated, we are close to the first title of the season.”

One of the players who appeared to have been hit hard by exhaustion was Dani Carvajal, who did not train with the rest of the group on Friday. But, Ancelotti confirmed that the veteran right-back will be ready to face Barcelona, saying:

“He’s fine, he’s needed more rest because he’s a veteran and needs more time but he’s going to play.”

One of the major talking points leading up to the game has been who among Kepa Arrizabalaga and Andriy Lunin would start in goal. Answering the question, the manager said: “I’ve decided, but I’m not going to give any clues.”

The Italian tactician also had some praise for his Barcelona counterpart Xavi Hernandez, saying: “He doesn’t have my experience but his track record is very good. The idea he has is helping him, he’s doing very well.”

When Toni Kroos came off the bench against Atleti earlier this week, he was met with a lot of boos and whistles from the Saudi Arabia crowd. When asked if it affects the player, Ancelotti replied:

“Toni hasn’t even noticed that. It’s not going to affect him. I haven’t spoken to him about it, he’s ready to play.”

Meanwhile, Real Madrid captain Nacho Fernandez will be starting his first-ever major final under Ancelotti tomorrow. When asked about the veteran defender’s place in the team, the manager said:

“He is one of the players who serve as an example for the new players, in terms of desire and professionalism.”

The substitutes played an important role in Real Madrid’s 5-3 win over Atletico earlier in the week. And when asked about the importance of the right substitutions during a game, the Merengues’ boss replied:

“Matches are prepared with the eleven who are going to start. I never think about changes in a preventive way. Every match is different and can change by details. You can’t think about a change before a match. The good thing is that I know that those on the bench are ready.”

On how he would like to win tomorrow, Ancelotti said: “If we play better than Barça we will win. But I would like to win even if we don’t deserve it.”

When further probed about the goalkeeping situation, Ancelotti provided an explanation saying: “I’m going to do something, I see how worried you are. Kepa arrived and was a starter, then he had an injury and Lunin deserved to play. It’s not to Kepa’s detriment.

“Now I feel I can’t choose a starter and a substitute. The important thing is that they both understand it, and they have understood it.”

Ferland Mendy returned from injury and started against Atletico in the semi-finals and all signs point towards him retaining his spot against Barcelona as well.

“When he’s well, he’s the best left-back in the world defensively,” Ancelotti said in praise of the left-back.

Discussing the atmosphere in Saudi Arabia, the Real Madrid boss stated: “It’s good, it’s a country where football has a lot of Real Madrid fans.”

Real Madrid and Barcelona have already met once this season with Los Blancos emerging winners despite being dominated by their opponents in the first period.

“We have analysed it. We didn’t play well in the first half, especially defensively. We’re taking that into account, as well as the eleven they put out,” said Ancelotti, discussing the first Clasico of the season.

On his prediction for how things might go in tomorrow’s matches, Ancelotti said: “It’s an illusion to prepare for these matches, matches that everyone watches. It will be a spectacle. You worry about a lot of things and it’s hard because even though there’s excitement, you worry about doing well.”

When asked if Real Madrid go in as favourites, he said: “It’s a competition that ends tomorrow, an important title but then there are other things. Tomorrow it could even out. It will be the small details that decide the final.”

On whether there is revenge on their mind for the Super Cup final defeat from last season, Ancelotti remarked: “No, we go out at our best because of the demands of this shirt, there is no desire for revenge. We respect Barça, they’re strong and they’ve beaten us but we’re hungry in every game.”

Tomorrow’s match will see Ancelotti go past Zinedine Zidane on the list of games managed at Real Madrid, with both currently being tied on 263. When asked what he has learned from the Frenchman, the current manager replied:

“Zidane was the best player I have seen in training. It was unbelievable what he did. He has helped me a lot as an assistant because he knew the club. He has helped me with getting to know the French and adapting to the Spanish culture.”

On whether he is motivated to beat Zidane’s record, he replied: “No, of course, I’m happy, but titles stay on the cards. You look at them from time to time but the important thing is the day after. I always look ahead, whatever happens. Anything can happen tomorrow but on Thursday we have another game.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

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Real Madrid News

Bundesliga title-winner ‘is ready for Real Madrid’, says former German great

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Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking in an interview with Sport BILD (h/t AS), Germany legend Michael Ballack has claimed that Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz is ready to play for Real Madrid.

Wirtz is a player that Real Madrid have been closely monitoring for a while now, with the German sensation being seen as a long-term replacement for Toni Kroos, who announced his retirement yesterday.

A move for Wirtz is being planned for the summer of 2025 and Ballack believes that the Bundesliga title winner with Leverkusen is ready for the big move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

“Wirtz is ready for Real Madrid,” said Ballack.

“In terms of football, Wirtz can definitely play for Real Madrid. You can also see it in Jude Bellingham after his move from BVB: when you play with even better players, you become even better,” he added.

The Toni Kroos replacement? (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Wirtz has a contract with Bayer Leverkusen that runs until the summer of 2027. As things stand, the new German champions have no intentions of selling their prized asset this year.

However, there appears to be an acceptance that the German international will be on the move in 2025.

Other top clubs like Manchester City and Bayern Munich are also understood to be interested, but Real Madrid are likely to beat them in the race should it come down to that next year.

A move for Wirtz, though, could cost in excess of €100 million for Real Madrid should they do indeed decide to proceed with his signing next year.

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