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Ancelotti talks Modric, Haaland, Camavinga, Valverde ahead of Real Madrid vs Manchester City

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will face their toughest test of the season so far tomorrow night when they lock horns with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

Los Blancos come into the game high on confidence after winning the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2014. However, having beaten Osasuna in the final, they will face a much tougher challenge on Tuesday in the form of Manchester City, led by the deadly Erling Haaland.

The two teams had met at this exact stage of the competition last season, and Real Madrid had pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Cityzens on their way to winning the trophy. And the Merengues will be hoping to get the job done again when they face the English champions.

On the eve of the match, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media, and discussed the challenges that lie ahead in the form of Manchester City.

“The plan for tomorrow is to play a complete game, bearing in mind that the decisive match will be the second leg. We want to take a small advantage tomorrow. Let’s see if we can do it,” the Real Madrid boss said.

“It’s a match that demands a lot from everyone and when you reach the semi-final of a competition like this, it demands a lot from you.”

Providing a positive update on the fitness situation of veteran midfielder Luka Modric, Ancelotti added: “Modric has no problems and when he is well, he can play, so tomorrow he will play.”

The manager even confirmed that Modric will be starting tomorrow, saying: “Yes, I am clear about who is going to play. Modric and others.”

The Italian tactician admitted that Haaland will be a huge threat for his team tomorrow, but insisted that they are working on stopping the entire Manchester City side and not just the Norwegian hitman who has been scoring goals for fun this season.

“Haaland is a very dangerous player. He is showing impressive quality and he is a danger but talking only about him means not talking about the rest of his team-mates. We are planning a game to stop the whole team, not just Haaland. They look unstoppable but I think we can win,” Ancelotti said.

Talking about the level of the team in comparison to last season, the Real Madrid boss added: “I think we are at the same level as last year. It is difficult to evaluate the physical condition and compare it with last year. The fact that we won the Copa del Rey will be an extra boost for tomorrow’s game and we are very excited.”

Opening up on whether Manchester City have changed the way they play since Haaland arrived, Ancelotti said that it was not the case before adding that the Norwegian’s arrival had made them more complete.

“What I can say is that Manchester City is a more complete team with the arrival of Haaland. Gabriel Jesus was very dangerous, but different from Haaland. They haven’t changed their style.

“Maybe they play a bit more direct but it doesn’t mean they have changed the style. They are very organised and they handle the ball very well,” he stated.

Ancelotti then spoke about Eduardo Camavinga and what he brings to the table operating as a left-back, as he said: “With Camavinga at full-back he sometimes changes his position. He’s not a full-back who plays out wide, because that’s where we have Vinicius, who is very dangerous. He is only a full-back when we don’t have the ball. When we have the ball, he moves inside.”

Talking about the excitement that the UEFA Champions League brings, he said: “Last year we arrived after three years without a win. Now we come here with a Champions League win last year. The fans are always excited to win this competition.”

The 63-year-old also touched upon the tight fixture schedule and the fatigue that it brings to players, saying: “The physical aspect is not the most important thing, we have had time to recover. My tiredness is different from Valvderde’s.”

On what will be key to winning tomorrow, the Real Madrid boss replied: “We have to impose our quality and our experience”.

On the other semi-final between AC Milan and Inter Milan, Ancelotti said: “I was lucky enough to face Inter in a semi-final when I coached Milan and it went well. On a tactical level, it’s going to be a very even game.”

Real Madrid have seen young talents like Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr, Camavinga, and Fede Valverde flourish in recent seasons. Talking about their progression, Ancelotti said:

“I have helped the young players by giving them minutes and confidence, but it has been them who have taken advantage of those opportunities. They are a guarantee for the future of the club. Their progression gives us hope for the future.”

When quizzed about the potential duel between Haaland and Thibaut Courtois, Ancelotti once again insisted that it would be dangerous to focus on just one opponent, saying:

“We didn’t plan a game to stop one player. We are planning a game to stop a team that is very dangerous on the ball. To focus on one player would be to forget about other players who are also very important and very dangerous.”

On his team’s strategy for the game, Ancelotti said: “If you defend well, at worst it’s a draw. That doesn’t mean we won’t attack. Don’t forget that last year we conceded five goals and scored six. I would take that result.”

Source: Real Madrid Twitter

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid superstar reveals how advice from Brazil legend helped him improve

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Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Even with all the excitement around Kylian Mbappe, it is Vinicius Junior, who continues to be Real Madrid’s biggest star.

In the past few years, the Brazilian has witnessed substantial growth, notably establishing himself as one of the best players in world football.

Vinicius’ rapid rise to prominence has been backed by numbers as well, with the forward racking up 82 goals and 75 assists in 262 competitive matches for Real Madrid.

Vinicius on receiving advice from Ronaldo

In a recent media interaction, Vinicius Junior, when talking about his success at Real Madrid, revealed that the forward constantly receives advice from his compatriot and former Real Madrid legend Ronaldo.

Vinicius particularly pointed out Ronaldo’s advice in 1v1 situations and how it has helped him improve in such scenarios.

“Ronaldo always calls me and gives me advice, he teaches me so many things. Since he told me that his favourite thing is a 1v1 vs a GK, I thought about it a lot and started working on it really hard,” Vinicius said (h/t Madrid Zone).

Ronaldo regularly speaks with Vinicius. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Now, every time I’m in a 1v1 with a GK, I’m the calmest guy in the world. Ever since that conversation with Ronaldo, I stopped being afraid of making mistakes in a 1v1,” the forward added.

Vinicius has indeed witnessed an improvement in his 1v1 play in recent years, which has been reflected in his higher goalscoring numbers.

This season, the forward has netted 23 goals in all competitions while racking up 11 assists. His goalscoring prowess, coupled with his ability in 1v1 situations could prove to be critical as Real Madrid take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final next month.

The Brazilian international, though, will be up against a challenging defensive duo of Mats Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck, who have been able to keep the opposition attacks quiet this season.

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