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Ancelotti talks Lunin, Courtois, Kroos, Modric ahead of Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Having been crowned the champions of La Liga this past weekend, Real Madrid will now turn their focus towards the UEFA Champions League as they get set to face Bayern Munich in the second leg of the semi-finals tomorrow.

The tie is nicely poised as the first leg at the Allianz Arena ended in a 2-2 draw, leaving everything to play for at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

Real Madrid go into the game with a high morale after the win against Cadiz and their coronation as champions of Spain.

But, the job is not done and the team must be at their best to secure a place in the UCL finals, said manager Carlo Ancelotti in his press conference.

“We have to try to do our best. It’s a semi-final. We’re very excited because it’s a great opportunity to reach a final. The difficulties will be many, but we’re in good shape and very motivated to do well,” he said.

On facing a rival like Bayern Munich, Ancelotti remarked: “As clubs they are similar, they have a great history and a lot of success in the Champions League. We respect each other and that’s fair enough. They did better than us in the first leg.”

When asked if there was a sense of euphoria and over-optimism within the squad after winning the league, Ancelotti responded:

“We’re not over-optimistic but we have great enthusiasm. There is awareness of the difficulties we will encounter in the match. There is no over-optimism.”

One of the biggest questions in the fans’ minds heading into tomorrow’s game was who would start in the Real Madrid goal after Thibaut Courtois returned to action over the weekend.

But Ancelotti confirmed that it will be Andriy Lunin who will get the nod, saying: “Lunin is going to play. The plan for a player coming back from injury doesn’t change for one game. Courtois is fine but he needs time to get to his best. He played an optimal game.”

On what keeps his motivation high, the Italian said: “Today is a day worth living. That’s a very big motivation. Tomorrow can be complicated if we lose. Tomorrow brings worry, fear. To experience today, before a semi-final, is spectacular.”

The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Almost ten years ago, it was Ancelotti who led Real Madrid to the historic La Decima – their tenth European Cup/Champions League triumph.

Heading into tomorrow’s game, the manager insisted that some of the members of that team were still playing a key role in shaping the future of the club, saying:

“The squad that started in 2014 is still a part of it. Time passes for everyone. That squad managed that period very well. The general line has always been managed by Modric, Nacho, Kroos, Carvajal.

“The transition started with the departure of Cristiano and they are handling it. They are showing the youngsters how to behave at Madrid.”

On what kind of match suits his team the best, the manager replied: “A match with intensity, with pace is more convenient for us… Evaluating the first leg, defensively we could have done a lot more. An intense match.”

When asked if he felt more confident because of the second leg being in Madrid, Ancelotti remarked:

“I am confident because it’s Madrid, because of the squad, because of the fans. We think we’re on the good side but Tuchel will think he’s on the good side. Today we enjoy and tomorrow we worry.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, anything can happen, but we’re looking forward to a spectacular night,” he added when asked for a prediction.

Ancelotti spent a brief stint as Bayern Munich manager which did not end with a lot of success for him. Reflecting on his time in Germany, the Real Madrid boss said:

“We have to do a job with the support of the club. If the support fails, it’s better to separate, that’s what happened with Bayern. I have a fantastic relationship with them, with Hoeness, Rummenigge. It is work and if there is no support, it is better to separate ways.”

On the plans to celebrate the La Liga title, he said: “We were happy to win La Liga but we had to control the joy to prepare for this game. Of course we’re going to celebrate La Liga.”

Ancelotti also remarked how Bayern Munich, along with Real Madrid, are the most dangerous team when it comes to transitions during a match, saying:

“Madrid and Bayern are the most dangerous in Europe in this situation. With balance we can control them and avoid risks”.

When further probed if Bayern are similar to Real Madrid, he added: “Bayern are similar. They have experienced players who know the character of the team well. If there is extra time, we will play extra time.”

This season, Ancelotti has not relied on Toni Kroos and Luka Modric as a pair regular, often opting to play one or the other. But he insisted that the duo can still play together, saying:\

“They haven’t played together but they can do it. We ponder how it will be, but they are here contributing a lot and we are very happy with them.”

When asked to describe his philosophy as a coach, Ancelotti said that he believes that a team should not be tied down to one identity and should be adapted according to the players.

“The idea has to be adapted to the players. I don’t want a team that only has one identity,” he remarked.

Source: Mundo Deportivo

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Real Madrid News

Official: Real Madrid announce starting lineup to face Real Betis

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Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Real Madrid will sign off on their successful La Liga campaign today with a fixture against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The game, being seen as a final preparation for the UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund, sees manager Carlo Ancelotti field his strongest possible lineup.

All eyes will obviously be on the retiring Toni Kroos, who bids goodbye to the Bernabeu in what will be his final home game as a Real Madrid player.

The German international starts in the centre of the park alongside Federico Valverde, while Eduardo Camavinga slots in as the No. 6.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid captain, Nacho Fernandez, also starts in what could be his last game at the Bernabeu as well.

Nacho pairs up with Antonio Rudiger in defence, flanked by the full-back pairing of Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy. Thibaut Courtois starts in goal ahead of Andriy Lunin and Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Up front, Vinicius Jr. starts in attack, partnering up with Rodrygo Goes. Top scorer Jude Bellingham occupies the attacking midfield role for Real Madrid.

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