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Real Madrid legend advises Ancelotti to avoid key personnel change for UCL final

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Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas believes Andriy Lunin should play as the starting goalkeeper in the UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund instead of Thibaut Courtois

Casillas explained that while Courtois is widely considered the top goalkeeper in the world, his recent return from a long injury layoff might make him less prepared for such a high-stakes match. 

In contrast, Lunin has demonstrated his talent and reliability throughout the season, proving his capability in important games, which makes him a worthy contender for the Champions League final.

“Courtois has just recovered from an injury and it is true that the other day he played very well, but he is still not in the rhythm of competition,” said Casillas as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.  

“He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I am convinced that when he returns he will have that high level. 

“Lunin has shown that he is a reliable goalkeeper, that he can be there at any time. It is not a question of whether it is up to me or not, but  Lunin should start in the final,” he added.

Casillas wants Lunin to start the Champions League final over Courtois. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

The Real Madrid DNA

Casillas, who boasts an impressive career with victories in three Champions Leagues, a World Cup, and two European Championships, along with various other accolades, later mentioned that Real Madrid embodies a winning spirit. 

This mindset drives the team to keep fighting for every ball until the final whistle.

“Real Madrid has a winning DNA that makes it not give up a ball until the end. The club always tells you about dedication, sacrifice and the fight. 

“The connection that the team has with the Champions League is something that you experience when you are on the field,” he added.

The former captain also expressed that he wants Joselu, who scored two goals against Bayern Munich, to continue his journey at Real Madrid next season.

“Joselu was the protagonist of the match, I am very happy for him. He is a local kid and a wonderful boy who takes advantage every time he goes out. 

“It is a club thing, but as a fan, I would like him to stay,” he said.

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti talks Kroos retirement, Tchouameni, Nacho, Mbappe ahead of Real Madrid vs Real Betis

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be playing their final La Liga game of the season tomorrow when they lock horns with Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It will be the final game that legendary midfielder Toni Kroos will play at the iconic stadium having announced his retirement.

Tomorrow’s contest could also prove to be captain Nacho Fernandez’s final home game ahead of a possible summer departure.

These topics featured heavily in manager Carlo Ancelotti’s pre-match press conference today heading into the contest against Real Betis.

Kicking things off, the Real Madrid boss shed light on how the team was preparing for the game against Real Betis, with an eye on the Champions League final versus Borussia Dortmund in a week.

‘It’s preparation for the final, we’ve worked well this week. It’s the end of the league, we want to finish it well, it’s a fantastic season, we’ve done well from start to finish,” he said.

“It’s the farewell of a legend of our club, we have to enjoy it, it’s an important day. It’s been a deserved league, with a very high score, it’s the easiest league of my career to manage, for the atmosphere, for the squad…. Very, very good.”

The chat then moved to Kroos’ retirement announcement and how he viewed it, to which Ancelotti remarked:

“Veteran players, legends, have to choose their destiny. Toni has made that decision and we have to respect it. We have to see him off as best we can. I respect his decision, it’s the decision of a man with balls, it’s the reality.”

On how Real Madrid plan to replace someone of Kroos’ stature, he added: “Replacing someone like that is almost impossible, but this squad has the resources in the young players to take responsibility and follow the path marked out over the last ten years.

“Every year it loses pieces, but it doesn’t lose the atmosphere, the attitude and the commitment, they have to maintain the clean atmosphere that exists. It depends on each individual, but I don’t think it was a complicated decision for him.”

Kroos’ final home game for Real Madrid tomorrow. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

On whether he spoke to Kroos to try and get him to reconsider his decision, Ancelotti replied:

“He was convinced. To say goodbye like that would be ideal. Then you have to have the courage to do it and I have a lot of respect for what he has done.”

During the press conference, Ancelotti confirmed that Aurelien Tchouameni was definitively ruled out of the UCL final, saying: “He’s ruled out for the final, but he’ll make it for the EURO.”

On whether the veterans will have to step up for the final part of the season, he said: “This generation has won titles and I believe it will continue to win them, and now we have the chance to win another one.”

Youngster Mario Martin has been called up to the first-team squad again for the Betis game after featuring against Alaves and Villarreal.

When asked if the 20-year-old has what it takes to remain with the senior setup in the future, Ancelotti said:

“He is progressing very well, he can be in the squad without any problem, he has quality and a good attitude. He, like other youth players, we can think that in the future he will be in the first team.”

Going back to the topic of Kroos, Ancelotti was asked to say what made the German international so unique, to which he responded:

“A very high and very consistent performance, with no drop-offs. One of the few who knows how to manage the tempo of games with possession. His passing is unique. He has contributed a lot to football, he is one of the best midfielders in history.”

When asked to pick his favourite game of Kroos, the Italian replied: “It’s difficult to choose one, because he has always played with a lot of continuity. He has always stood out.”

The matter of Kylian Mbappe then came up with Ancelotti being asked about the Frenchman’s possible involvement in the Olympics this summer.

“I don’t go into these issues. I like the Games, if I can I watch the Italian teams,” he said.

Finally, Ancelotti addressed the future of captain Nacho Fernandez, saying: “He hasn’t decided yet, we are waiting, but we are not in a hurry. After the season he can choose what he wants to do next season. Now his idea is to try to win the 15th.”

Source: AS

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