Real Madrid will be aiming to return to winning ways after the draw against Rayo Vallecano, when they face off against SC Braga on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.
A victory at the Santiago Bernabeu tomorrow should seal Real Madrid’s place in the knockout stages of the competition and that is what Carlo Ancelotti & co. will be gunning for, especially with questions being asked of their performance after the weekend draw.
On the eve of the game, manager Ancelotti spoke to the media, providing an update on the injury of Jude Bellingham while also discussing several other topics.
Talking about the game and its importance, the Real Madrid boss said: “It’s an important game for the qualification. We will have to fight. We know them well. They will come here to take points.”
“I prefer to win. If I win I’m good, if I draw I’m bad. 90% of the time if you play well, you win. But wins are the only way to judge the players,” he added.
Real Madrid head into the game with question marks over the availability of star man Bellingham, who suffered from a dislocated shoulder last weekend.
On the Englishman’s condition, Ancelotti said: “We will evaluate tomorrow if Bellingham can play. He hasn’t done the full training session.”
The chat then drifted to Vinicius Jr. and the recent criticism of his attitude, with Barcelona legend Carles Puyol urging the Brazilian to improve his behaviour.
“If Puyol wants to talk to Vinicius, let them talk. It could be that he needs to improve his attitude at times. We are delighted with him and everything he does on the pitch because he has improved a lot compared to the last few years,” Ancelotti said on the matter.
Talking about the team’s lack of goals, the Real Madrid boss said: “The less you concede, the more chances you have of winning. Since I’ve been here, we’ve scored an average of two goals per game.
“The team has improved a lot defensively, that’s why we don’t have to score a lot of goals.”
Discussing Rodrygo’s poor returns in front of goal, in particular, Ancelotti added: “We have to be patient with the goal. Rodrygo has the most shots on goal in La Liga, he moves well but sometimes it doesn’t go in. All strikers go through these moments.”
Addressing his future, which remains uncertain owing to his expiring contract, he said: “I feel very loved by the fans, by the Bernabéu and by the club, who show me their affection. I’m very comfortable here.”
Discussing the high level of competition in the Champions League and the potential challengers for the trophy, Ancelotti stated:
“There are no big surprises in this Champions League. The level of the top teams is very high: Bayern, City… And the Spanish teams are going to have more presence.”
Ancelotti has faced the ire of some fans due to his utilisation of Brahim Diaz, as the Spanish playmaker has hardly played since returning from his loan spell at AC Milan. The Real Madrid boss, though, insisted that Brahim’s chances will come, saying:
“Brahim hasn’t had many minutes. I know he can contribute but there is a lot of competition. He’s serious, I like him and he’s going to have his role. I don’t pass judgement on anyone, I’m not a judge.
“Sometimes I hear that players are sentenced and I never do that. I have something special with him because he played for Milan.”
Ancelotti also commented on future Real Madrid star Endrick’s surprise first call-up to the Brazil national team, as he said:
“Endrick is doing very well and for him, it’s a prize to go with Brazil.”
Discussing Real Madrid’s transfer plans for the future, Ancelotti ruled out any activity in the January window, saying:
“I don’t think we will do anything in winter, in the second part of the season the injured players will return. I don’t know when, but before the end of the season. We are not going to do anything in winter… In summer, hopefully.”
Source: Mundo Deportivo
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