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Ancelotti talks Vinicius, Benzema, Hazard, Rodrygo, Rudiger ahead of Real Madrid vs Barcelona



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Real Madrid will be aiming to take a step towards qualifying for the finals of the Copa del Rey when they host arch-rivals Barcelona in the semi-final first leg on Thursday night.

It will be the third El Clasico of the ongoing season, with Los Blancos winning one and losing one each, the latter coming in the finals of the Supercopa de Espana.

Real Madrid will have revenge on their minds heading into the game, while they would also be looking to hurt Barça’s confidence by condemning them to a third defeat in a row in all competitions.

Ahead of the match, manager Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media and discussed what a match against Barcelona means, while also touching upon the situation of some of his players like Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo Goes, and Eden Hazard ahead of the Clasico.

On facing Barcelona and the preparations for the game: “We are preparing for the match with confidence. We have to play a complete game offensively and defensively and we are looking forward to playing because these are the most beautiful duels. We are very close to reaching the final and there are many things to enjoy.”

On Vinicius Jr: “Vinicius’ growth is a positive aspect. Being dependent on him is normal because at the moment he is one of the best in the world.”

On the last meeting vs Barcelona: “We have evaluated previous games against Barcelona and if we repeat the mistakes of the last game it will affect us but I don’t think it will happen again. We are close to winning a competition that is important for us.”

On the potential duel between Ronald Araujo and Vinicius: “Araujo is a very, very strong defender and it’s going to be a very entertaining match-up with Vinicius”.

On Eden Hazard: “Hazard is fine. He is training and he wants to have minutes. He can get them in the next few games. Rodrygo is also fine.”

On Rodrygo’s fitness: “Rodrygo feels good. But he has only trained once. We will decide.”

On choosing between Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga: “The important thing is that Tchouaméni is fine. He can play as a starter without any problem and the truth is that Camavinga is doing very well and that’s good for us.”

On the Negreira scandal: “I think there is no corruption in football at the moment. I don’t know who the referee is but I hope there is no problem.”

On Karim Benzema: “What Karim has done is very important and we thank him for it because he has helped us a lot and let’s hope he can do it this year as well.”

On Antonio Rudiger: “Rüdiger is always focused. He has improved his level a lot and I think he can improve his ball handling. With him and Militao the team is more solid.”

On whether Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will be benched: “Modric and Kroos might not play. We will see tomorrow. These are games where you need a lot of things. It is possible that because of the energy, Kroos won’t be in the game but because of the experience and quality he has an advantage over others. I have to think about it.”

On whether Real Madrid are extra motivated because of Super Cup loss: “The desire we have is not because of the Super Cup rematch but because we are close to a title and when that happens at Real Madrid the temperature rises.”

On the team’s situation compared to last season: “Compared to last year, we have two points less in the league but we are in the cup and last year we weren’t and we lost the first leg of the round of 16 and this year we didn’t. I’m convinced we’re going to win something but I’m not a magician.”

On the FIFA Best Awards: “In the Best Award the World Cup has mattered a lot and it is quite normal that Messi, Martinez and Scaloni have won and I congratulate them.”

On his votes at the FIFA Best Awards: “I haven’t really been interested in The Best awards. It’s quite normal. My three I can’t say because I have a conflict of interest but they are Real Madrid, for sure”.

On whether Camavinga will start: “Eight months into the season I don’t know who the starting 11 are. Every game I have to choose them because I don’t know.”

Source: Real Madrid Twitter

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Real Madrid News

Kovacic speaks ahead of Real Madrid vs Chelsea: “Strange to have Modric as a rival”



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

In less than two weeks, Real Madrid will play hosts to Premier League giants Chelsea in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It is a repeat of last season’s Champions League quarter-final, with the change being that the first leg was played at Stamford Bridge back then, which Real Madrid won triumphantly.

So, even though they lost the second leg 3-2, Los Merengues progressed on aggregate. At one point in the second leg, Real Madrid were 3-0 down and looked to be crashing out of the tournament.

But, that is not how the match played out as Luka Modric produced a moment of magic, sending in a stunning outside-of-the-boot pass for Rodrygo to guide home. That forced the match into extra time and Karim Benzema then scored to seal an aggregate win for his team.

Mateo Kovacic, a former Real Madrid midfielder, was on the losing side with Chelsea on that fateful night. And the Croatian has now spoken to Sportske Novosti, about that moment of magic from Modric last year as well as the prospect of facing Real Madrid again.

“We were good against Real Madrid last year, especially in Madrid. Then Modrić invented that trivela assist for Rodrygo… We have to be at 120% against them. They immediately punish every minor mistake. Although I repeat, we are also a difficult opponent for them, we showed it, Kovacic said.

On the prospect of facing his close friend and national teammate Modric, Kovacic added: “[laughs] how the draw arranges it… It won’t be easy for us because Real Madrid is always the most dangerous team in the Champions League.”

“It’s a strange feeling to have Modric as a rival. There were hard fouls last year because neither he nor I pull back. We will fight for sure. I play on the left, he’s on the right, we will see who wants what. But I wouldn’t like to hurt him,” he added.

Chelsea had met Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League during the 2020/21 campaign as well and had managed to eliminate them at the semi-final stages on their way to winning the title.

While the Blues have not been in the best of form this season, they have the star power and quality in their ranks to hurt Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti’s men must be at their best to get through to the next round.

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