After sealing a spot in the finals of the Copa del Rey with an emphatic 4-0 win over Barcelona, Real Madrid will turn their focus back to La Liga as they gear up to take on Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu tomorrow.
With Barcelona not scheduled to play until Monday night, Real Madrid have a chance to reduce the gap to the top to nine points and put some pressure on their arch-rivals. However, with Villarreal pushing for a top-four finish, they will make life hard for the current champions.
Ahead of the game, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti appeared in front of the media and discussed several topics including the current mood in the team and Rodrygo’s fitness situation, among others.
On the team’s condition after El Clasico: “We are fine. A bit tired, but no problem. We’ll try to put out the best team to keep fighting in the league until the end.”
On his mood: “I am very well. Calm and excited. With a lot of motivation because the team is doing very well. On a personal level, I don’t have any problems. In games like Wednesday’s, there’s a lot of pressure and when they’re over you just want to rest.”
On whether he would swap places with Xavi at Barcelona: “It’s impossible for me to coach Barcelona. I wouldn’t change for Xavi. I’m lucky enough to coach Madrid, the best club in the world. I have a lot of respect for Barça and Xavi, but I’m in a place where people love me a lot.
“The season is very much alive, we are going to play the fourth final of the season and we are satisfied. We want to finish the season well. We have a disadvantage in La Liga because Barcelona are doing very well. We think we have a chance in the league. Until the maths tells us we’re out, we’re going to fight.”
On the Gavi-Vinicius incident in Clasico: “It was a match with a strong rivalry. That’s the way all derbies are. Vinicius is marking an era in football and all Madrid fans hope he continues like this. He is doing very important things.”
On having managed the 1272nd match of his career against Barcelona: “I looked at it the other day because I thought it was close to 1,300 and because I have to celebrate.”
“It was an important game. The win against Barça allows us to play in a Copa del Rey final. I don’t know where I put it in my coaching career. Maybe I do put it in my top ten in terms of the level of football, but I have very good memories of other games.”
On any difference in the team from last year: “There is not much difference compared to last year. We are more confident. The players are united, enthusiastic, and excited. Also those who aren’t playing. This is good for us.”
On whether he feels he has a point to prove: “I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Everyone knows me and can evaluate me, but after 1,272 games I don’t have to prove anything.”
On the renewals of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric: “There is progress because they are talking and in the end they are going to look for a solution.”
On David Alaba’s season: “It has been a season where he has had some problems. Above all physical. They have affected him a bit. He hasn’t had the continuity he had last year but he’s back and he’s doing very well today. In these two games, we have kept a clean sheet also because of him.”
On Karim Benzema, Modric and Kroos: “I see the three of them as always. They can have their best and worst moments during a season but that’s quite normal.
“We have to evaluate players not by age but by what they actually do and you can think that the three of them don’t have the energy of the youngsters but the way they handle games and the experience they have you can’t buy in any market in the world.”
“I think they will continue but we will have to think about when they stop because it will happen.”
On the confidence in the youngsters: “We have fantastic young players who are going to mark a different era to Kroos, Modric and Casemiro. Tchouameni, Camavinga, Ceballos…. They are all very good and they are going to be important.”
On Rodrygo’s condition: “He arrived a little late for training because he had a personal problem. He’s fine, he has no problem. I think he’s going to play.”
On Vinicius Jr’s improvement: “The individual work he’s done has been to shoot in front of goal and he’s been more confident and more patient in front of goal and he’s handled it very well.
“The ceiling is the consistency that he has to have. The physicality he has will help him a lot because he never gets tired. His ceiling is to have continuity.”
Source: Real Madrid Twitter
PSG defender could follow Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid in the summer of 2025
As PSG brace for the departure of Kylian Mbappe, it is set to mark a before and after in the history of the French club.
All signs point towards the 25-year-old superstar signing for Real Madrid on a free transfer, with an agreement between the two parties getting closer.
And, it may so happen that another PSG star might follow Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu, albeit a year later in 2025.
Hakimi could return to Real Madrid
Indeed, according to Mundo Deportivo, Achraf Hakimi could opt to leave PSG in the summer of 2025 and Real Madrid would be a likely destination for the Moroccan right-back.
Hakimi, a former Real Madrid academy graduate, has enjoyed success in Paris since joining them from Inter Milan.
However, the Moroccan international will enter the final year of his contract in 2025, with the deal expiring in 2026. And, both the player and the club could opt to part ways then if a new contract is not agreed upon.
And a return to Real Madrid could be on the cards for Hakimi. He is a player very well considered by Carlo Ancelotti.
The ex-Inter Milan man would also come to reinforce the right-back position, which currently has Dani Carvajal and Lucas Lucas Vazquez, whose contract expires at the end of the season, but could be offered a one-year extension.
Furthermore, Hakimi would be keen to return to the Spanish capital and would even be willing to reduce his current salary, which is over €10 million net. The lure of playing with Mbappe, one of his closest friends, will also be a major appealing factor.
As for Real Madrid, they need to soon find a long-term heir to Carvajal and a player like Hakimi, entering his prime years and familiar with the club could prove to be a shrewd signing.