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Reason behind Real Madrid defender’s exclusion from starting XI vs Espanyol

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

A wounded Real Madrid take on Espanyol at Santiago Bernabeu later today. Having suffered two draws and a defeat in their last three games, the Merengues will be under pressure to deliver for they cannot afford any more slip-ups in La Liga.

However, there seems to be a never-ending list of problems for Carlo Ancelotti to settle before kick-off. Karim Benzema, Ferland Mendy and David Alaba are all unavailable for the clash through injury. To add salt to the wound, Rudiger has been excluded from the starting XI.

According to reports from the AS, the German is not at 100%, forcing him to start on the bench tonight. In his absence, Ancelotti has named Nacho Fernandez in the lineup who is expected to take up a central defence role alongside Eder Militao. Eduardo Camavinga will play as the left-back.

The last-minute change in personnel is a concerning development. However, the silver lining for Real Madrid is that Camavinga has performed well on the left side of defence this season and Nacho is ever-reliable.

Espanyol are no stranger to big games and have taken points off both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona on the road. Joselu, in particular, has been in spectacular form for the Catalans with 11 goals in 20 league starts this season.

Given the compromised defence, the Merengues must be wary at the back if they are to return with three points. After all, they have maintained only one clean sheet in their last four games across all competitions.

The game between Real Madrid and Espanyol is set to kick off in less than an hour in the Spanish capital. While the defence is an interesting situation, all eyes will be on the hosts’ attack to see who steps up in Benzema’s absence.

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Real Madrid News

‘No magic tomorrow’ – Ancelotti talks Haaland, Bellingham, Camavinga ahead of Man City vs Real Madrid

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Photo via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti has a huge task on his hands tomorrow as his Real Madrid side visit the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City for the second-leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

Last season’s game in the heart of Manchester did not end well for them as Pep Guardiola’s side put four past them without conceding any.

Ancelotti will need to make sure that with the game standing at 3-3, his side makes no mistakes tomorrow and comes out on top as victors.

However, he has left the onus on the players as opposed to on him or Guardiola.

“Football always belongs to the players. The first leg witnessed a very competitive and enjoyable encounter. The players will be the champions tomorrow,” the Italian said during his presser, as quoted by MARCA.

On Bellingham, Haaland, Camavinga

Talking about Bellingham’s statement from earlier where he said he works ‘more for the team now’ which has made him lose his scoring form, Ancelotti said:

“I ask everyone to work for the team and that means commitment. Jude scored many goals, which no one expected. But in general I ask to work for the team, whether Vinicius, Rodrygo or him. We are the team that concedes the least goals.”

“The league and this reflects that the teamwork is very good. The more quality players work, the greater the commitment.”

Ancelotti also spoke more about Bellingham, calling him an all-round modern-day footballer.

“He is a very modern player, with great technical ability and intelligence. Being a midfielder, he can cover many spaces and I expect a great future for him, because he is only 20 years old. At this age he is already very mature and exciting.

The conversation quickly shifted to Erling Haaland, and whether Ancelotti was worried about keeping him quiet, even though Madrid have done a brilliant job of not conceding a single goal against him in the last three games.

“If we talk about individuals, he remains one of Manchester City’s most dangerous players. The fact that he did not score in the first leg is down to the defence, but he can be the best centre-forward in the world and will always be dangerous,” Ancelotti replied.

Ancelotti pretty much confirmed the presence of Eduardo Camavinga in the starting XI tomorrow, not that it was ever in doubt.

“Are you sure he will play? (Laughs). Yes, come on, I think so too.”

Camavinga will be key. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

On the matchup

Manchester City, as the defending champions and arguably the best team in the world, have been deemed as favourites heading into the second-leg. According to Ancelotti, though, Real Madrid fans have no reason to be anxious.

“I think Real Madrid fans are calm, they are not worried. In this competition, you don’t have to be the most anxious, you have to be the happiest. This team has always competed in the Champions League. I don’t see the confrontation as worrying, Rather, trust.”

As for the game, Ancelotti said there will be no surprises tomorrow, like the 2021/22, as the two sides know each other well by now.

“(Laughs) No, no. We know each other very well. Don’t worry, I won’t practice magic tomorrow.”

The four-time Champions League winning-coach was also asked whether Man City vs Madrid is the modern-day El Clasico, as some people have been calling it due to their exciting games over the last few seasons.

“There are many teams in Europe that are very strong and can win this competition, but it is true that we have faced each other a lot in recent years and they have always been very interesting matches. Tomorrow our opponent will be the same, the competition will be amazing.”

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