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Osasuna manager hails Ancelotti ahead of Copa del Rey final: “Specialist in winning finals”

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Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images

As Real Madrid prepare to take on Osasuna in Copa del Rey final, the Los Rojillos manager, Jagoba Arrasate, has heaped praises on Carlo Ancelotti, saying that the Italian is a ‘specialist in winning finals’.

Speaking to the media ahead of the match, Arrasate said (h/t Mundo Deportivo): “He is a specialist in winning finals. We have more than analyzed each other. More than looking for a surprise, what we want is for everyone to give their best version. Today it is very difficult to surprise the rival. The only option to win is play a perfect match.”

It must be remembered that each of Osasuna’s last four matches in Copa del Rey have gone to either extra time or penalties. In their Round of 32 tie against Gimnastic, it took Eric Montes’ own goal in added minutes to come out 2-1 victorious.

They went on to beat Real Betis 4-2 on penalties in the Round of 16 before getting better of Sevilla and Athletic Club in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively. Speaking on the aspect, Arrasate admitted that taking Real Madrid to the added time is going to be very difficult for them.

“We’ve had four extensions and we wouldn’t mind playing another one and even going to penalties. But it will be very difficult to make the game long. We have to raise our bar and make things difficult for our opponents,” he explained.

He went on to explain that despite the magnitude of the game, the players will conceive this fixture as ‘just another game.’ At the same time, he also admitted that it is nearly impossible for them to beat Real Madrid with 11 players.

“We face it as just another game. We have played many times, although we have not been able to win. We know what we have to do. It will be important to bother Real Madrid,” he said.

“It always comes to mind what eleven you can get, but day by day makes you change. I’ll try to be as fair as possible. Tomorrow it’s impossible to win with only eleven [players]. We need everyone to lift the Cup,” he added.

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Matches

Camavinga, Tchouameni start in a 4-3-1-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Barcelona

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be aiming to get a step closer to lifting the La Liga title when they face off against FC Barcelona later tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid are currently seated atop the league table, eight points clear of Barça in second place. And another win tonight would stretch the lead to 11 points, all but guaranteeing their coronation as Spanish champions.

It will not be easy with Barcelona motivated after their defeat against PSG in the UEFA Champions League while fatigue could also be a factor after Los Blancos toiled it out for 120 minutes against Man City earlier this week.

Heading into the game, Real Madrid have one fitness concern as Ferland Mendy did not train on Saturday due to some overload in his left leg, although he was included in the squad list by Carlo Ancelotti.

Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba are the only injury-enforced absentees for the league leaders and here’s how Real Madrid could line up tonight against Xavi Hernandez’s side.

Starters

Fresh off his penalty shootout heroics against Manchester City, Andriy Lunin will guard Real Madrid’s goal again and hope to help his team to another crucial victory.

Antonio Rudiger has been in brilliant form this season and is a guaranteed starter at the heart of the Merengues’ defence. The German international should pair up with club captain Nacho Fernandez to stop Robert Lewandowski & co.

Even though there has been some chatter about Lucas Vazquez starting at right-back, Dani Carvajal is expected to get the nod as usual.

Mendy’s possible absence, however, could pave the way for Eduardo Camavinga to start at left-back for Real Madrid, with Ancelotti likely to trust the French midfielder in a makeshift role over Fran Garcia.

Camavinga could fill in at left-back. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Aurelien Tchouameni is back after missing the Manchester City game through suspension and will slot in as the defensive midfielder against Barcelona.

Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos will take up the two interior midfield positions for Real Madrid while Jude Bellingham will operate as the lone attacking midfielder.

However, it will not be a surprise to see Real Madrid transition into a 4-4-2 with Valverde and Bellingham moving out wide on the right and left flanks, respectively.

Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr. are the undisputed starters up top in attack, with the former likely to operate from the left after his recent success while the latter will play slightly more centrally.

Real Madrid Predicted Lineup: Lunin, Carvajal, Rudiger, Nacho, Camavinga, Tchouameni, Valverde, Kroos, Bellingham, Vinicius, Rodrygo.

Substitutes

Brahim Diaz and Luka Modric are players that Carlo Ancelotti counts on from the bench for every game and that will not change tonight against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Joselu is also an option that Ancelotti could turn to if he wished to change things up in the attacking unit.

Eder Militao could also get some minutes, depending on the game situation, as Ancelotti hopes to get the Brazilian into match-rhythm in time to face Bayern Munich.

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