Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Copa del Rey Round of 16 second leg against Atletico Madrid, manager Carlo Ancelotti gave his thoughts on what he expects to see from both sides in this latest – and crucial – version of the Madrid derby.
Real Madrid go into the match against their cross-city rivals with a two-goal deficit from last week’s first leg at the Vicente Calderon.
Ancelotti believes his players and the home supporters are aware of the magnitude of the event and he expects intensity levels to be raised inside of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Programming note: The second leg of Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 will be shown LIVE on Thursday starting at 1:55pm EST on beIN SPORTS and DishWorld.
“It’s a derby and everyone knows how important the Madrid derby is,” Ancelotti said during his pre-match press conference today. “We go into the game needing to score twice to level the tie and I’m sure that the atmosphere is going to be special and I hope we can respond and put in a good game.”
“We know Atletico well and we know how to play against them. We must put in an intense game but keep a cool head. You need intensity to your game when you play against Atletico because they have one of the most well-organized defenses in Europe and it is always difficult to create openings against them.”
When asked is his side would have to match Atletico Madrid’s toughness, Ancelotti responded: “I didn’t say anything about tough football; I said intensity in how you play. That is the key to winning the game. It’s going to be a closely-fought game just like the first leg was. We are behind in the tie and we have to get back in contention.”
The Real Madrid boss then revealed that Jesé has fully recovered from his injury and could play a role in the squad on Thursday. But Alvaro Arbeloa will not be involved in the derby after a recurrence on the knee injury which kept him sidelined for more than two months at the end of last season.
The manager also gave an update on the long-term injury suffered by Luka Modric in November. The midfielder has been out of the Madrid lineup for two months after sustaining a thigh injury during Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualified against Italy.
“He came back to Madrid on Monday,” Ancelotti said in regards to Modric. “He’s started his rehabilitation and we expect he will be able to return in about a month’s time.”
Ancelotti also insisted reports of a fall-out between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale – following the Welshman’s failure to pick out his unmarked teammate against Espanyol – are off the mark.
“They have a great relationship,” the Italian said. “Yesterday, Cristiano asked to take a photo of all of us together including the staff to celebrate his Ballon d’Or. We celebrated together and that’s that.”
Real Madrid’s squad list for tomorrow’s match: Iker Casillas, Keylor Navas, Pacheco, Varane, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao, Marcelo, Carvajal, Nacho, Khedira, Kroos, James, Bale Isco, Illarra, Ronaldo, Benzema, Chicharito and Jesé.
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