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.
Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Napoli | UCL GW 5
Real Madrid are back in the Champions League following their impressive win against Cadiz on the weekend as they host Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu for gameweek five.
They have already secured qualification to the round of 16, and even a point today would secure first place in the group.
With several players still injured, Carlo Ancelotti has opted for his best available starting lineup, with Daniel Carvajal taking responsibility of the captain’s armband at right-back. He will be aided by Ferland Mendy, who starts on the other side.
Meanwhile, in between them, David Alaba returns to the fold as the starting centre-back, partnering Antonio Rudiger. This duo has the responsibility of screening Andriy Lunin, who continues in goal in Kepa and Thibaut Courtois’ absence.
With both Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni out, Toni Kroos gets the chance to play as the holding midfielder for two games in a row. Federico Valverde retains his spot, as well, while Dani Ceballos comes in for the injured Luka Modric in central midfield.
Rodrygo will spearhead the team’s frontline as one of the two twin forwards, while Brahim Diaz gets the nod over Joselu. Jude Bellingham is the final, and arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, playing behind the front-two.
Confirmed Madrid XI: Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos; Bellingham; Diaz, Rodrygo