Real Madrid News
Real Madrid players and Ancelotti to skip Best FIFA Awards to focus on Barcelona clash
The Best FIFA Football Awards will take place later tonight in Paris as the governing body will hand out accolades to the top achievers of the game in the year 2022.
And, according to Mario Cortegana of The Athletic, the Real Madrid players and manager Carlo Ancelotti will give the gala a skip to focus on their upcoming game against FC Barcelona.
Los Blancos take on their arch-rivals Barça in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey (first leg) at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday night.
And, as per the report, Ancelotti & co. see the match as a ‘final’ and do not want any distractions in the lead-up to the encounter against Xavi Hernandez’s side.
Furthermore, the Merengues do not consider it appropriate to attend such an event at a critical juncture of the season, especially after they failed to defeat neighbours Atletico Madrid in La Liga over the weekend.
As a result, they will not be attending the Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in Paris tonight. However, Real Madrid’s director of institutional relations, Emilio Butragueno, will likely be present at the function, along with club ambassador Roberto Carlos.
Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema had been nominated for the FIFA Best Men’s Player of the Year Award, but he is set to lose out to Lionel Messi of PSG. Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois will be pipped to the best goalkeeper award by Messi’s Argentina teammate Emiliano Martinez.
However, Benzema, Courtois and Luka Modric are expected to make it to the FIFPro Best XI, but Antonio Rudiger and Federico Valverde, who were also in the running, will miss out.
The report adds that Real Madrid have been left surprised by the exclusion of Vinicius Jr from the 26-man nomination list for the FIFPro Best XI of the Year despite everything he achieved last season.
Real Madrid News
Kovacic speaks ahead of Real Madrid vs Chelsea: “Strange to have Modric as a rival”
In less than two weeks, Real Madrid will play hosts to Premier League giants Chelsea in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie at the Santiago Bernabeu.
It is a repeat of last season’s Champions League quarter-final, with the change being that the first leg was played at Stamford Bridge back then, which Real Madrid won triumphantly.
So, even though they lost the second leg 3-2, Los Merengues progressed on aggregate. At one point in the second leg, Real Madrid were 3-0 down and looked to be crashing out of the tournament.
But, that is not how the match played out as Luka Modric produced a moment of magic, sending in a stunning outside-of-the-boot pass for Rodrygo to guide home. That forced the match into extra time and Karim Benzema then scored to seal an aggregate win for his team.
Mateo Kovacic, a former Real Madrid midfielder, was on the losing side with Chelsea on that fateful night. And the Croatian has now spoken to Sportske Novosti, about that moment of magic from Modric last year as well as the prospect of facing Real Madrid again.
“We were good against Real Madrid last year, especially in Madrid. Then Modrić invented that trivela assist for Rodrygo… We have to be at 120% against them. They immediately punish every minor mistake. Although I repeat, we are also a difficult opponent for them, we showed it,“ Kovacic said.
On the prospect of facing his close friend and national teammate Modric, Kovacic added: “[laughs] how the draw arranges it… It won’t be easy for us because Real Madrid is always the most dangerous team in the Champions League.”
“It’s a strange feeling to have Modric as a rival. There were hard fouls last year because neither he nor I pull back. We will fight for sure. I play on the left, he’s on the right, we will see who wants what. But I wouldn’t like to hurt him,” he added.
Chelsea had met Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League during the 2020/21 campaign as well and had managed to eliminate them at the semi-final stages on their way to winning the title.
While the Blues have not been in the best of form this season, they have the star power and quality in their ranks to hurt Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti’s men must be at their best to get through to the next round.