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Barcelona superstar praises Ancelotti ahead of Real Madrid clash: “He’s a man to learn from”

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Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Robert Lewandowski has been quite a success for Barcelona since joining the club last summer. In just 32 competitive matches, the forward has racked up 25 goals this season and is currently the top-scorer in La Liga.

In a recent interaction with ESPN, Lewandowski offered his thoughts on various topics. But most notably, the forward has heaped praise on his former manager Carlo Ancelotti as Barcelona get set to take on Real Madrid in a league El Clasico on Sunday.

Lewandowski praised the Italian manager for his humility while suggesting that the coach had played a key role in giving him added confidence.

“Ancelotti gave me incredible self-confidence. He gave me something that I didn’t have before. He’s an amazing human being, a man who takes care of you. For him, the most important thing is to be a good guy, not to talk about tactics. He’s a man to learn from,” he said.

Lewandowski and Ancelotti worked together during their time at Bayern Munich. In 57 matches under the leadership of the Italian tactician, the Pole scored 54 goals in all competitions.

Ancelotti, though, managed Bayern for only one complete season before being ousted in the early parts of the 2017/18 campaign. He eventually joined Real Madrid in 2021 and has since managed 98 matches during his second spell at Santiago Bernabeu.

Ancelotti’s position, though, has come under doubt in recent months following Real Madrid’s poor performances in domestic competitions.

As things stand, Real Madrid are nine points shy of Barcelona in the La Liga standings. A defeat on Sunday could widen that gap to 12 and all but end Los Blancos’ title defence.

As a result, the Italian could be sacked come the end of the season if he fails to deliver any major trophies, with the club viewing Raul as a potential replacement.

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti’s dilemma: How will he handle a fully fit defense next season?

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is set to face a challenging situation in restructuring his defence for the upcoming season and that is largely down to key players like David Alaba and Eder Militao are returning to full fitness. 

Interestingly, this situation might put Antonio Rudiger’s spot in the starting lineup under significant pressure.

Back when Rudiger joined Real Madrid he was supposed to strengthen a defence already featuring Alaba and Militao. Despite their young age, these two had firmly established themselves in the team. 

Over the past two years, however, Ancelotti has consistently relied on the duo, with Rudiger and Nacho serving as their main substitutes. 

A big decision awaits Ancelotti

As the new season approaches, Ancelotti faces a dilemma similar to the one he had with goalkeepers Andriy Lunin and Thibaut Courtois. A similar situation is likely to unfold with Rudiger and Militao vying for the right centre-back position.

It must be remembered that Militao suffered an untimely injury last season, prompting Ancelotti to choose Rudiger over Nacho, who, although right-footed, is also adept on the left side. 

Carlo Ancelotti needs to assess his defensive duo for next season. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

As the season progressed, Rudiger proved his worth, becoming a mainstay in the defense. His physical strength, bravery, and aerial prowess made him a reliable choice. 

His ability to play out from the back earned him the respect and confidence of his teammates, overshadowing Militao’s absence.

Rudiger’s importance has grown

Rudiger’s importance grew further when Alaba got injured in December. He became the cornerstone of the defence, often partnering with Nacho or Aurelien Tchouameni. Even when Rudiger played on the left side, the defensive structure remained solid.

When Militao returned in the last month and a half of the season, he struggled to regain his previous form. The long recovery period left emotional scars, and he was not the same player he had been before the injury. 

Consequently, Ancelotti opted to keep Rudiger in the lineup for crucial matches towards the end of the season.

With the new season on the horizon, Rudiger’s strong performances will present a significant challenge for Ancelotti. 

As Alaba also returns from injury, Ancelotti will have to decide who among Rudiger, Militao, and Alaba will be benched. 

Rudiger has proven his capability, often outperforming the Brazilian, whose post-injury form is still uncertain. 

Adding to the competition, Real Madrid might sign Leni Yoro and even Rafa Marin could return from his loan spell which could further complicate Ancelotti’s decisions.

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