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Kimmich talks Bellingham, Kroos, Ancelotti, Vinicius, Mbappe ahead of Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid

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Bayern Munich play hosts to Real Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night at the Allianz Arena.

Ahead of the blockbuster encounter against the Merengues, Bayern Munich midfield mainstay Joshua Kimmich granted an interview to AS, during which he discussed the prospect of facing Carlo Ancelotti’s side as well as a number of their players.

Last time Real Madrid and Bayern Munich clashed was in the semi-finals of the UCL, back in 2018, with Los Blancos emerging triumphant.

Kimmich was involved in both those matches and even scored on both occasions but it was not enough for Bayern to qualify. When asked if he was looking forward to the rematch, he replied:

“I don’t think it will be a real rematch because the two teams are totally different now. There are some players who played in 2018, it was six years ago. We’ve had a lot of time to develop better. The teams have changed. There are two completely different games now.”

On what makes playing Real Madrid in the Champions League special, he added: “Whenever you watch Madrid in the Champions League you see their great mentality and quality. They have a strong team. A lot of talent, but also a lot of experience.

“You can feel this, especially in the important games in the Champions League. You feel they have more experience and they have something special with the Champions League.

“Two years ago they started losing both games with my goals and they came back. They always change the games at the end. It’s about quality, but it’s also about mentality and they have both. We know they have a very strong team.”

Even though Kimmich has played as a defensive midfielder for most of his career, in recent weeks he has been asked to slot in at right-back, where he initially started off, by manager Thomas Tuchel.

In the past, playing at right-back, Kimmich has been able to stop the threat of Kylian Mbappe. Now the German international is set to come up against another top winger in Vinicius Jr.

“Unfortunately or fortunately, you usually face perhaps the best player on the other team playing at right-back or left-back. You get players like Mbappé or Vinicius… Two of the best players in European football at the moment,” said Kimmich.

“I know he is very strong in one-on-one situations. Like Kylian Mbappé. So I’m very happy to face him and compete with him.”

Discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Vinicius as a player, he added: “We all have some weaknesses and some strengths. I don’t want to talk about his weaknesses.

“Vinicius is a very very strong player. I have to concentrate, defend and when I have the opportunity to attack, of course I want to attack. But in the beginning, we have to focus on defending and be focused on our game.”

Kimmich will face Real Madrid tomorrow. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)

In Carlo Ancelotti, Kimmich comes up against a manager he played under at Bayern Munich. When asked if he was surprised by the Italian’s success at Real Madrid, he said:

“No, of course not. He was very successful with his style of management before. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as successful with us. But I know him as a coach. I know the team he has, with a lot of individual quality, a lot of mentality. Maybe he is the perfect coach for this team.”

On coming face-to-face with Toni Kroos, who recently returned to the German national team after having previously retired, Kimmich said:

“I’m always happy to see him. Especially in the national team. I’m very happy to have him back. It’s always nice to play with him. I also enjoy it when I play against him. In 2018 was the first time we met, but now, of course, we want to beat them. We have a new chance.”

On whether he has been in touch with Kroos ahead of the UCL clash, he added: “We sent each other messages after our quarter-final matches, because we had talked before, in the national team, about a possible meeting in the semi-finals… And we made it.

“We are very happy about it. Whether it was us against Arsenal or them against City, the chances were 50-50. We are both happy to have made it and to face each other now.”

Discussing whether he has been surprised by the impact of Jude Bellingham, who joined Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, Kimmich remarked:

“I’m definitely not surprised that he has an impact. But that he has scored so many goals, important goals, is impressive. I think he’s an amazing player. To have that mentality, with his age, makes him special. He fits in a team like Madrid very, very well.”

There have been question marks about Kimmich’s future, with his contract expiring next year. On being asked if he would consider a move to Spain, he said:

“I want to talk to Bayern. And when I do that, I won’t go out and talk to the press about it. I’m only focused on the two games against Real Madrid.

“At the moment I’m not thinking about this. As I said, I’ll talk to Bayern first. But of course Barcelona and Real Madrid are incredible clubs with an amazing history.”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid superstar the No. 1 footballer currently, says Spain manager

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Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Speaking in an interview with Vamos (h/t Mundo Deportivo), Spain manager Luis de la Fuente has acknowledged that Real Madrid ace Jude Bellingham is the No. 1 footballer in the world currently.

Bellingham has enjoyed a spectacular debut season at Real Madrid and has been one of their chief protagonists as the Merengues won the La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup titles and made it to the UCL finals.

Even though his form has somewhat dipped in the latter stages of the season, the England international remains integral to Carlo Ancelotti’s plans and one of Los Blancos’ most important players.

And Spain manager Luis de la Fuente expressed his admiration for Bellingham, saying:

“He is a player who is doing particularly well. It’s a subjective view, but I like Bellingham’s style a lot, I like that type of player, powerful….”

When asked if Bellingham is the No. 1 player in the world at the moment, De la Fuente replied in the affirmative, as he said: “I think so.”

Bellingham has played 40 times in all competitions for Real Madrid this season, racking up a total of 23 goals and 12 assists in the process.

The 20-year-old’s exploits with Los Blancos in his debut campaign have put him in contention for the Ballon d’Or this year.

A strong performance in the finals of the UEFA Champions League next month and a solid run with England at the UEFA Euro 2024 could further his chances of winning the Golden Ball, although his teammate Vinicius Jr. is also an equally strong contender.

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