Real Madrid will be aiming to move to the top of the La Liga standings when they host arch-rivals Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Los Blancos are second in the table, behind Barça only on goal difference. They will need to pick up all three points to reclaim pole position on the table.
Coming into the game on the back of a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid will need to be at their best to get one over their eternal rivals.
On the eve of the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti addressed the media where he provided updates on the injury situation of some players while also talking about the importance of El Clasico.
On preparations for El Clasico: “As always, but we must add what this match represents for everyone, the quality of the two teams. But it is prepared in a similar way, although we must add the emotional aspect, the pressure…”
On Thibaut Courtois: “He’s pretty good, but it’s true that he’s trained very little, he’s not comfortable and he’s ruled out. We’ll see for the following Sunday, but now he just needs to train.”
On Antonio Rudiger: “He’s fine, he has no discomfort, he’s comfortable, he’s a warrior, and he’s very excited.”
On Real Madrid doing better than Barcelona in the second half of matches: “I think they are characteristics of the two teams that must be taken into account. It is true that we do better in the second half, I don’t know if it will affect the match.”
On whether Rodrygo will start or be used as a sub: “He is an extraordinary player, forceful, now I am giving him more minutes and he has shown what he is. He can play in all the positions upfront.”
On changing the squad and tactics like last season: “There are no inventors of football, it was invented a long time ago and it is clear that I am not going to invent it. It is clear that last year I wanted to invent something.
“As for mentality, the Paris team (from the Champions League final), of course, has everything, mentality, attack and defend. We have to play a complete game and only then can we win games and titles.”
On Barcelona: “They have only drawn one league game and they are in a good dynamic in the championship. They have had some problems in the Champions League that can happen in that competition, but in the league, they have been spectacular.”
On last year’s Clasico loss and its impact: “I haven’t put up the video from last year. The players know the rival very well. Last year’s match is not going to affect it, this is another year, another Clasico, another competition.
“We hope to play a good game and we want to present a good image. But it is not a life-or-death match. It’s special, but the season is too long. We want to win, of course.”
On whether a defeat would do more damage to Barcelona: “I don’t know how it would affect them, we have to think about winning the game. It’s a team that has the resources to have a great season.”
On Eder Militao’s season: “He is doing very well, at a very high level, he has individual quality, physical quality, of a high-level central defender.”
On Karim Benzema: “I’ve seen him much better this week, his condition has improved a lot. I’m convinced that tomorrow we’ll see the usual Karim.”
On Barcelona’s style of play: “Their history speaks clearly, they continue with a style that the fans and the club like. It is an idea that has given them success and that they continue to have. Other clubs have other ideas.
“I think that having only one style is not the best for me. The players change and the most important thing is to have the players comfortable with the style they play.”
On if he watched Barcelona vs Inter Milan: “I think we played differently from Inter, but it’s true that what Inter showed in the game was brave. They didn’t lower their arms after the goal, they played effectively upfront. It will be a different and an even match.”
On what Rudiger offers to the team: “Rudiger brings strength in duels, heading in both areas. It is not a surprise that he scored at the end. Like Militao, they have this quality of the header. What he brings more are his mentality and his personality. A winner who never stops in training. He is a very pessimistic defender.”
€85 million-rated Serie A winger ‘dreams’ of playing for Real Madrid, claims father
Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia dreams of playing for Spanish giants Real Madrid, the winger’s father has revealed following the UEFA Champions League clash between the two teams last night.
Kvaratskhelia, 22, exploded upon arriving at Napoli last year, leading them to the Serie A title on the back of his explosive performances.
The Georgian winger has been impressing in the ongoing campaign as well, although he failed to score or assist in either of Napoli’s meetings with Real Madrid in the Champions League group stages.
Kvaratskhelia has previously spoken about how he has always been a lifelong supporter of Real Madrid and grew up idolising some of the club’s legends like Cristiano Ronaldo and Guti, among others.
Now, the 22-year-old winger’s father has revealed that his son has always dreamt of and continues to dream of playing for Real Madrid.
As quoted by Fabrizio Romano, Kvaratskhelia’s father said: “Khvicha always dreamed and still dreams of playing for Real Madrid. I am sure about it.”
Talking about the fact that the winger got to play against Real Madrid, Kvaratskhelia’s father added: “For Khvicha, playing vs Real Madrid was special. In my family, everyone is a Real Madrid supporter, except me.”
Real Madrid are in the market for attacking reinforcements, but they are looking for a centre-forward next summer and have Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland as their main targets.
As for Kvaratskhelia, whose market value stands at €85 million, it seems quite apparent that he harbours dreams of playing for Real Madrid. But it remains to be seen if there is some interest from Los Blancos in signing the winger.