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Ancelotti talks Courtois, Benzema, Rudiger, Militao ahead of Real Madrid vs Barcelona

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Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

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.”

Source: SPORT

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Matches

Camavinga, Tchouameni start in a 4-3-1-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Barcelona

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be aiming to get a step closer to lifting the La Liga title when they face off against FC Barcelona later tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid are currently seated atop the league table, eight points clear of Barça in second place. And another win tonight would stretch the lead to 11 points, all but guaranteeing their coronation as Spanish champions.

It will not be easy with Barcelona motivated after their defeat against PSG in the UEFA Champions League while fatigue could also be a factor after Los Blancos toiled it out for 120 minutes against Man City earlier this week.

Heading into the game, Real Madrid have one fitness concern as Ferland Mendy did not train on Saturday due to some overload in his left leg, although he was included in the squad list by Carlo Ancelotti.

Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba are the only injury-enforced absentees for the league leaders and here’s how Real Madrid could line up tonight against Xavi Hernandez’s side.

Starters

Fresh off his penalty shootout heroics against Manchester City, Andriy Lunin will guard Real Madrid’s goal again and hope to help his team to another crucial victory.

Antonio Rudiger has been in brilliant form this season and is a guaranteed starter at the heart of the Merengues’ defence. The German international should pair up with club captain Nacho Fernandez to stop Robert Lewandowski & co.

Even though there has been some chatter about Lucas Vazquez starting at right-back, Dani Carvajal is expected to get the nod as usual.

Mendy’s possible absence, however, could pave the way for Eduardo Camavinga to start at left-back for Real Madrid, with Ancelotti likely to trust the French midfielder in a makeshift role over Fran Garcia.

Camavinga could fill in at left-back. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Aurelien Tchouameni is back after missing the Manchester City game through suspension and will slot in as the defensive midfielder against Barcelona.

Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos will take up the two interior midfield positions for Real Madrid while Jude Bellingham will operate as the lone attacking midfielder.

However, it will not be a surprise to see Real Madrid transition into a 4-4-2 with Valverde and Bellingham moving out wide on the right and left flanks, respectively.

Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr. are the undisputed starters up top in attack, with the former likely to operate from the left after his recent success while the latter will play slightly more centrally.

Real Madrid Predicted Lineup: Lunin, Carvajal, Rudiger, Nacho, Camavinga, Tchouameni, Valverde, Kroos, Bellingham, Vinicius, Rodrygo.

Substitutes

Brahim Diaz and Luka Modric are players that Carlo Ancelotti counts on from the bench for every game and that will not change tonight against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Joselu is also an option that Ancelotti could turn to if he wished to change things up in the attacking unit.

Eder Militao could also get some minutes, depending on the game situation, as Ancelotti hopes to get the Brazilian into match-rhythm in time to face Bayern Munich.

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