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Ancelotti talks Rudiger, Rodrygo, Militao, Vinicius, Haaland ahead of Man City vs Real Madrid



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

A spot in the finals of the UEFA Champions League will be on the line when Manchester City face off against Real Madrid in the second leg of their semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu this Wednesday.

With the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu ending in a 1-1 draw last week, both teams go into the game on equal footing, but City might have an edge due to the fact that they will be playing on home turf, where they have an excellent record this season.

However, Real Madrid thrive when the odds are against them and will be relishing the opportunity to get a good result at the Etihad, having already tasted success twice in England this term against Liverpool and Chelsea.

On the eve of the match, manager Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media and discussed the possible lineup combinations and a potential penalty shootout, among other things.

Talking about his team’s plan and strategy, the Real Madrid boss said: “The plan is the same as always, to try to get the best out of our team individually and collectively. It’s going to be very demanding, we can do better than in the first leg. Some things we can do better after reviewing the match.”

On the legacy that he will be leaving behind at Real Madrid, Ancelotti said: “This is my fourth year at this club, what can I say. I’ve enjoyed it and I enjoy it every day, that’s the legacy.

“To get the best out of the squad, we have done that, we are close to doing something very important this year. We are very excited, but I think the difficulties help us to get the best out of this squad.”

The manager then spoke about the possible starters on Wednesday night, and commented on the chances of Antonio Rudiger featuring from the kickoff yet again after his outstanding display against Erling Haaland in the first leg.

“I think it was a misunderstanding about Rüdiger. I said he can be a starter like anyone else, you misunderstood me. I apologise. I thought you were talking about Rodrygo,” he said.

“That said, I’m lucky to have all the players available. It makes it more difficult to line up. I have a very clear idea, if we win I’ll get the lineup right, and if not, I’ll get it wrong. The lineup is in my head.”

When asked if he plans to go with four central midfielders or use a three-man frontline with natural forwards, Ancelotti did not give much away, saying:

“Last year’s idea of Valverde as a winger allowed us to win the Champions League and the three up front got us to the semi-finals. It’s not an easy decision, but it has been made.”

On the possibility of penalty shootouts, Ancelotti said: “We don’t think about this. It’s a game that can go to penalties, but it’s difficult to practice that. We don’t really think about that, we think about winning the game first.”

Eder Militao is available for the game after missing the first leg due to suspension. However, the Brazilian is not guaranteed a starting berth due to Rudiger’s impressive displays and the former’s own recent missteps on the pitch.

When asked about Militao and whether he is alert and focused, Ancelotti said: “I got off the plane arm in arm with him, but not today. He is very excited, like everyone else.

“I’m not going to talk about concentration and motivation, because if you’re not motivated for a game like this you can’t play football. I think the squad is very good, we’re at our best. It was a game we’ve had in our minds for a long time.”

When asked about the difference in money spent on players in the Premier League and La Liga and whether that weighs in on the players’ minds, Ancelotti said:

“This issue doesn’t enter the minds of the protagonists of the games, who are the players. Only the excitement of playing these games and the concern of playing against such a strong opponent, not politics.”

On how he thinks the game will go, the Real Madrid boss replied: “I’m calm and excited, with a lot of faith. Tomorrow will be a day of worry, of bad thoughts about what the opponent is going to do, but we have to think that Vinicius can have a great game or Benzema, not in the negative.”

“I don’t think it will be any different. Just with some adjustments. There are things we can improve and they can also improve things. We are not going to see such a different game to last week. They have the best team in Europe.

Giving an insight into his talk to the players during the pre-match training, he said: “I don’t know why I don’t think about it. It’s just what comes out. Courage and personality in these games are very important because the pressure is very high and you don’t always have the personality to show your quality.

“What I want is a team that is able to read the situations of the match well. We are going to have moments of suffering, which is normal. We have to read these types of situations well.”

Real Madrid did a brilliant job of handling Erling Haaland in the first leg last week. On what plans Ancelotti had to tackle the Man City marksman tomorrow, he said:

“I think in the first leg we highlighted our way of handling the ball from the back. This will be important tomorrow. Having the ball means less risk defensively.”

“When we evaluate a team we evaluate the team, not the player. We have planned the game offensively and defensively. If they score, we’d prefer them to score early so we have time to react.”

Earlier today, Pep Guardiola spoke about the game and said Real Madrid are special when it comes to the Champions League and he would copy their secret to success in the competition if he knew what it was.

Talking about what makes the Merengues so special in the UCL, Ancelotti said: “It’s not easy to explain, but I personally believe that for Real Madrid the Champions League is special because of its history, because of its five historic Champions League titles.

“All the people who work at the club are capable of keeping this history alive. This is one of the great qualities of this club.”

On what matters more, the form of Man City or the greatness of Real Madrid, heading into this game, Ancelotti replied: “It’s difficult to decide between the two. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best team in the world, nobody can guarantee 100% that you’re going to win the game. It’s also about knowing how to handle the pressure and not about quality.”

On the possibility of transitions dictating the outcome of the game, he said: “We are very strong in transitions, but in the first leg it had nothing to do with that and we controlled the game. I don’t think there will be many transitions tomorrow.”

“Courage is a fundamental component in this type of match. In terms of individual and collective qualities, we are evenly matched, but courage is what makes the difference.”

Ancelotti then insisted that it will be important for his team to stay calm even if things get off to a tough start, saying: “Clearly we think City will come out all guns blazing and reckon they can score in the first few minutes, but everyone knows what happened last year on this same stage.”

Source: Real Madrid Twitter

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid eye €3.5 million-rated relegated Premier League striker to reinforce attack



Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Following a difficult season with troubles in La Liga and the Champions League preventing Real Madrid from retaining their crowns, Los Blancos move towards a transformative summer, full of innovations.

Real Madrid managed to clear plenty of unwanted figures at the club, with a huge relief on the wage bill. However, with an array of exits, the squad has contracted and thus replacements are being inquired.

Apart from the high-profile departure of Karim Benzema, fringe players have also bid their farewell.

Among those names is Mariano Diaz, who was Madrid’s backup striker prior to his withdrawal. Several names have been put on the table to fill his absence as the club largely aim to address their lack of depth.

According to Arancha Rodriguez (via RM4Arab), Leeds United striker Rodrigo Moreno is one of the names gaining consensus in the Madrid hierarchy. Moreover, Joselu has also been considered as a viable alternative.

The two favourites to replace Mariano have proven to be important figures for their clubs as both strikers maintain a starting role.

Playing for Espanyol, Joselu ended the La Liga campaign as the third top scorer, only behind Benzema and Lewandowski. Considering Espanyol’s relegation, such a feat looks even more impressive. The Spaniard secured 19 goals in all competitions.

On the other hand, Rodrigo Moreno recorded 16 goals last season across all competitions. Similar to Joselu’s case, the Spanish international also suffered relegation with Leeds, in spite of his good numbers.

With both players offering adequate output in struggling sides, Real Madrid’s interest is practical. Moreover, considering both Espanyol and Leeds were relegated, their asking price will undeniably lower, which enables the Merengues to sign one of the two targets at a more convenient rate.

It is claimed that Rodrigo has a release clause worth €3.5 million which Los Blancos would have to trigger to sign him from Leeds United.

It now remains to be seen whether Carlo Ancelotti & co. go after the former Valencia man or move for Joselu instead.

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