Real Madrid will look to secure a place in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League when they lock horns with SC Braga tomorrow night at the Santiago Bernabeu.
With three wins in three games, Los Blancos are on the cusp of going through to the next round, with a positive result on Wednesday expected to be enough.
Ahead of the game, Real Madrid defender and captain Nacho Fernandez joined manager Carlo Ancelotti in the press conference, discussing a number of topics.
“We’re excited, we know how important this competition is for Madrid. If we win we’ll achieve our objective of reaching the last 16,” Nacho said, discussing the team’s objectives in Europe.
Even though Nacho has not played a lot this season, the defender admitted that he is enjoying life as Real Madrid captain, as he said:
“I’m very happy and I’m not thinking about anything else. Being captain is a great dream and a responsibility. We’re in a good moment and we have to make the most of it.”
On his playing situation, the veteran added: “I fight to play in all the important games. I’ve been a starter in all the Champions League games and I’m at a great level.”
The veteran defender then spoke about his teammates starting with Jude Bellingham, who has been a star performer for the Merengues this season.
“He has Real Madrid DNA, he always wants to win and compete. He helps the team a lot up front and at the back. He’s one of the best signings in recent years,” said Nacho.
Commenting on another summer signing, Arda Guler, who could make his debut for Real Madrid tomorrow, the captain said:
“Arda is very young but he has an incredible talent and future. He needs to play and prove himself but he has everything to succeed at Madrid. We’re looking forward to seeing him play because he has tremendous potential.”
Vinicius Jr. has been in the news once again with his attitude and behaviour on the field being questioned. Responding to it, the Real Madrid skipper said:
“We talk a lot with Vini. He’s a type of player who feels more provocation than the rest. He always confronts and generates frustration. We talk to him so that he stays calm and focuses on playing.
“Little by little he is improving but he has a lot of character. We look after him a lot here, if Puyol wants to talk to him it’s up to him.”
“In the Champions League Vini is calmer. We are softening the situation, I don’t know if it’s because of the rivals. The important thing is that he focuses on playing.”
Commenting on the lack of goals from the two forwards, Vinicius and Rodrygo Goes, Nacho added:
“We have changed the way we play. Karim has very different characteristics to Vini and Rodri. The team is in a good dynamic despite the stumble against Rayo. They are going to score a lot of goals and generate a lot.”
Like Nacho, fellow veteran Luka Modric is also struggling for minutes this season but has made a valuable contribution every time he has played. Comparing their situations, Nacho said:
“Modric is used to always playing, mine is different, I’ve always had to fight to play. I’m looking to enjoy the day-to-day because I don’t want what happened last year to happen.”
On the matter of manager Carlo Ancelotti, he added: “Ancelotti is made to coach this club. He has a lot of credit because he has won everything. You can ask him about his future now.”
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