Ancelotti: "Bale's ready, when I decide to play him, he'll deliver"
The Real Madrid coach said that he will evaluate whether Karim Benzema is fit to play next week's Champions League game against PSG on Sunday or Monday.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti looked ahead to Saturday's league visit to Villarreal and gave an update on the fitness of some of his players with next week's Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain at the back of his mind. He said that Karim Benzema will be assessed after training on Sunday or Monday. It's been five years since Madrid's last win at Estadio de la Cerámica - a 2-3 victory in February 2017.
Villarreal are in the best form of the season, how will you be confronting the game?
They've been doing really well, they are a side that compete well and they are in a good run of results and a good dynamic. They have quality, they're organised... so it will be a complicated game as it always is, but are confident that we can put in a good game.
Does it look like Benzema will be available to play in Paris? If so, what risks are involved?
It's looking positive, he's been working apart. We will make a decision on Sunday or Monday, when he is expected to train with the squad. I can't really say much more until then but the sensations - his, mine and the doctors' are positive.
What advice do you give your players to motivate them at this key moment of the campaign?
There's not a lot to say to them! Those players, for everything they've done during their careers, they already have motivation. Winning motivates you to win again - the happiness you feel when you win something makes you want to carry on winning and if these players have won a lot during their careers, it's for that reason. They are highly motivated.
Back to Benzema, if he plays, is there a risk he could suffer a muscle tear?
As we've always said, the player's health comes before everything else. So there is no risk. If Karim is able to play, he will play without any risk. If there is the slightest risk, then he won't play. We have to assess it thoroughly, we have four days to do that. If Karim plays Tuesday's game, it's because there is no risk of him falling injured.
How is Jovic? Will he start against Villarreal?
He's much better, he's recovered after being out with Covid. He came on against Granada did what what expected of him. He has a chance of playing tomorrow, it will depend on whether we need a striker or player who can keep possession of the ball.
Would you have preferred to play the Villarreal game today? PSG will have an a day more to rest...
I don't really believe in those things very much. An extra day to rest doesn't give much advantage to the other team. We have three days, that's enough time.
How's Mendy? Will you be giving Valverde a run-out tomorrow?
Mendy's not ready for tomorrow's game, but he should be OK for Tuesday. As for Valverde, yes.
How is Bale ? How does he seem to you in terms of spirit?
My personal relationship with him is very good, he is committed. But it's one thing what you see out on the training pitch and another in matches. He seems ready to play to me. When I do decide to play him, he will deliver. Some people might ask me why I don't play him more often... And I understand that. But during the last 15 days he's been training with more intensity. He's ready.
Has Vinicius benefitted from being rested?
Yes, he looked motivated. January has been a very demanding month for him which I why I gave him an extra day to rest. He looks ready to return to be the Vinicius which we have seen in recent months.
Have you noticed a change in Isco?
No, nothing. Obviously, he has been through moments when he is not as motivated, because he has been playing less, but he's training well and looks fine. He's important for us.