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LALIGA SANTANDER

After Derbi defeat, Real Madrid happy to rotate with eyes on Champions League final

With another LaLiga title already sewn up, even a local derby wasn’t enough to change the focus of Carlo Ancelotti, which is firmly set on Liverpool.

Update:
El técnico del Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti, durante el partido contra el Atlético de Madrid en LaLiga Santander.
GABRIEL BOUYSAFP

Over recent years the Madrid derby has been that can decide the domestic title. Even when it doesn’t carry that significance, it is always deemed of critical importance to those in the city looking for bragging rights over their neighbours. But in the most recent edition, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti decided there were bigger fish needing fried in the near future, namely Liverpool in the 2022 Champions League final.

Rotation the key, with Liverpool in mind

Los Blancos were beaten 1-0 by Atlético Madrid in Sunday’s clash after making seven changes from their incredible midweek European semi-final win over Manchester City. Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior made appearances in the second half, although Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois watched the defeat from the Wanda Metropolitano sidelines.

The Liverpool clash - which sees Madrid go for number 14 and The Reds for a seventh - is in Paris on 28 May and Ancelotti, whose side host Levante on Thursday, ahead of games against Cádiz and Real Betis, was asked if he will continue to make changes to his side.

“Yeah. Those who played less today will now play on Thursday,” he told Movistar. “But the team that plays against Betis will more or less be the team that will play the [Champions League] final. The aim is to reach the final with everyone available.

“We still expect to compete, play with a high intensity and good rhythm. In the second half today the rhythm was good.”

No penalty discussion

The Madrid boss spoke about the defeat, their first against Atlético in 12 matches stretching back to 2018.

“It was a good, competitive match. We played much better in the second half and couldn’t have asked for more in a match that comes after an exciting week.

“I didn’t really expect any more from my side.”

Atlético’s winning goal came from a controversial penalty, awarded after VAR intervened but no questions were raised about it. As Ancelotti left the post-match conference he joked to reporters, “aren’t we talking about the penalty.”

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