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Ancelotti talks Vinicius, Bellingham, Courtois, Lunin, Kroos, Guler ahead of UCL final



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Less than a week is left before Real Madrid face off against Borussia Dortmund in the finals of the UEFA Champions League 2023/24.

The main event will take place on June 1, at Wembley in London, as Los Blancos gun for their 15th European Cup while Dortmund hope to spoil the Spanish capital club’s plans.

Ahead of the blockbuster encounter, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti addressed the press today on the media day, discussing several topics, starting with the team’s mood going into yet another Champions League final.

“With all the excitement in the world and what a final demands. Starting the week well, with confidence and all positive things. It’s a week to enjoy, bearing in mind what’s going to happen in the final,” said Ancelotti.

“We’re going to enjoy it until Friday. We have the idea that we have done very well and until the day of the final, we are going to enjoy it. We’re confident and we’ll be at our best.”

On how much the team wants to win the trophy, the Italian tactician remarked: “We don’t think of ourselves as favourites, but of playing against a team that also deserves it. They have shown quality, commitment and a good attitude… and we know we have to suffer and fight like in every final.”

Ancelotti has the record of managing a team in the most Champions League finals (6) as well as being the coach with the highest number of wins (4). When asked to explain the difference he felt between his first final and the latest one, he said:

“It’s the most important game of the season for everyone. It’s the same as the first time… my ninth final if I take into account my finals as a player. It’s going to be the same week, happiness and then the worry will come. Before the fear comes, I want to enjoy it.”

When asked if there were any signs of nerves or cold sweats, the manager replied: “The cold sweat comes on Saturday afternoon. It’s quite normal… it comes every game and I have experience. My players are in Champions League mode and I have a lot of confidence.”

Praising their opponents Borussia Dortmund, Ancelotti highlighted that the German team’s ‘attitude’ and ‘commitment’ stood out the most to him, before he added:

“It’s a good team in transition, young and some with a lot of experience. Against PSG I was surprised by the attitude and the fight to get to this final. That’s what worries us the most.”

On how he plans to get over the worry and the fear, the Real Madrid manager remarked: “We have a week to prepare for this game. We are going to focus on offensive and defensive work and the most important thing is to have a clear idea of what to do.

“Give clear information… and that way when the match arrives they know what they have to do. That way you don’t think about other things that can give you a bit of stress.”

On Real Madrid’s history in the finals, he said: “It is complicated and easy to answer this question. The club has created its history with this competition… it was born in the 50s with this competition and for everyone it is something special. Here we are more concentrated and more focused.”

Real Madrid have a very good mix of youth and experience in the dressing room which has helped them taste so much success in recent years.

Highlighting the importance of the experienced veterans in maintaining a good atmosphere in the locker room, Ancelotti said:

“The veterans are the example. The generation of commitment, of positive attitude and the veterans have contributed and continue to contribute to this.

“There are youngsters who are starting to take on more responsibilities and the club is doing well (transition) because the players who have come have understood what Real Madrid is all about.”

Real Madrid’s never-give-up mentality has bailed them out of difficult situations many times under Ancelotti. When asked if he does specific work with the team on that aspect, the manager said:

“I am not a psychologist, but I have experience in all this. As I said, the personal relationship is the most important thing. Not only to talk about technique and tactics, but also about personal issues. We need a good atmosphere to have a good group.”

Arda Guler has received a lot of minutes in the final stages of the season and made a big impression on the pitch. While he is unlikely to start at Wembley, Ancelotti insisted that the youngster can make a vital contribution, saying:

“Obviously he can be very useful during the game, because he is on a scoring streak. He has a 100% strike rate and he is an option for us.”

Saturday night will also be the final game Toni Kroos will play for Real Madrid and Ancelotti insisted that he hopes the German can sign off with a win, stating:

“It’s Kroos” last game… and hopefully he can finish his career at Madrid with a Champions League. On an individual level he deserves it, but Kroos’ career doesn’t contribute more with another Champions League than he has already done.”

Kroos plays his final game for Real Madrid vs BVB. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

“He has entered the history of Madrid and he won’t enter with another one. To finish with the Champions League would be the maximum, but Kroos is already in football history,” he added.

On the teamwork and the togetherness in the squad, Ancelotti added: “Attitude and commitment have been the key to getting out of all the problems we have had. Now everything is forgotten, but we have the injuries of Courtois, Bellingham, Vinicius, Alaba, Militao in our heads.”

When asked if he believed that the two best teams in the competition have made it to the final, Ancelotti replied: “Yes. Other teams are already on holiday.”

On what kind of game he expects against Dortmund, the Italian said: “We have to be prepared for all the facets that are going to come out in the match. They are a formidable team in transitions.

“A very compact defensive unit, I’m not saying they’re similar to us… but they do all facets well. It’s going to be a competitive and hard-fought game. Whoever does all these things better will win.”

One of the biggest debates heading into the final is whether Ancelotti should start Thibaut Courtois or Andriy Lunin in goal. Reports have suggested that it would be the Belgian who starts, but Ancelotti refused to give anything away.

“It’s very difficult to make the decision because they both deserve it. Everyone knows the qualities of Courtois… and I will make the decision when the game comes. One will play and the other will be on the bench (laughs),” he said.

“They both deserve to play for many reasons. Lunin has had a good season, he has a fever today… and now the best goalkeeper in the world is coming. This week, when I don’t have much to do, I like to watch the debate,” he further added.

The manager then praised Vinicius Jr., who has emerged as a strong contender to win the Ballon d’Or, saying:

“Vinicius’ work has been a job well done. To the great talent he has, he has added more movement. He chooses well when he has to play inside or outside. I think he is more focused on collective awards than individual ones.”

On whether Jude Bellingham, a former Borussia Dortmund player, has provided any insider information on the Black and Yellows, Ancelotti said:

“Nothing special. There are many ways to evaluate an opposing team, we have a lot of videos and we don’t need more reports. You can see all the things because of today’s technology.”

It has been a season during which Real Madrid have had to deal with multiple serious injuries, but they have found ways to cope. Touching on that, Ancelotti said:

“When Courtois got injured we had Lunin and we signed Kepa, who has been a very good signing because he has brought a lot to the dressing room. Kepa has been very important for us.

“When Militao got injured we thought we had Rüdiger, Alaba and Nacho. The reality is that nobody thought we had a problem. The players have adapted a lot because they never thought we had a problem.”

On what Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is like ahead of the UCL final, Ancelotti revealed: “The president is always calm. He shows us a lot of affection and is happy. It’s nice to spend time with him in these matches.”

Addressing the future of Real Madrid captain Nacho Fernandez, whose contract expires next month, the manager said:

“The only thing Nacho has told me is that we will talk after the final. I told him to call me on the phone because I’ll be on holiday.”

Source: MARCA

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  1. Sampson

    May 27, 2024 at 10:21 am


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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti-favourite defender will leave Real Madrid if club signs 23-year-old ace



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

With Kylian Mbappe’s signing now a completed objective, Real Madrid turn to what was always considered the second most critical operation of this summer – Alphonso Davies.

The Canadian full-back has been on Los Blancos’ radar for a while now, but with his contract with Bayern Munich running until 2025, his signing is seen to be a tad bit more complicated.

The Bavarians’ firm stance that they wish to persist with the speedster, needless to say, has only made the objective more complicated for Los Blancos.

No room for three

Despite Bayern Munich’s repeated advances towards Davies in recent weeks, Real Madrid are firm that they will attempt to sign the player this summer.

In light of the Canadian full-back’s possible arrival, Cadena SER reveals that Ferland Mendy will almost certainly leave Real Madrid if Davies’ signing is pulled off.

Carlo Ancelotti is clear that he has no room for three left-backs in his squad. One of Fran Garcia and Mendy must thus leave the Spanish capital in such a scenario and the Frenchman is better placed on that front.

Ferland Mendy (L) could leave Real Madrid if Davies arrives.. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Mendy’s current deal in Madrid runs out next year and the player has been informed that a decision over his future at the club will be taken shortly.

On track with Davies

The Spanish outlet also reveal that the Canadian speedster rejected an offer from Bayern Munich in recent hours and that his departure from the Bavarian capital is not ruled out.

Bayern Munich demand a sum of €50 million for the dynamic full-back. Real Madrid, however, have set a spending limit of €30 million for the youngster and will not exceed that sum in any scenario.

Vincent Kompany’s men thus have a critical decision to make, for allowing Davies to run down the final year on his deal may well back-fire as did the case of Kylian Mbappe with PSG.

Real Madrid, as it stands, appear to be in the driver’s seat.

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