RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid: Ancelotti’s Champions League press conference
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media ahead of Los Blancos’ Group F matchday-five clash with RB Leipzig.
Carlo Ancelotti hopes Real Madrid can “forget about” the Champions League group stage after Tuesday’s matchday five clash with RB Leipzig.
Already-through Madrid visit the Bundesliga club sitting top of Group F, and can guarantee a first-place finish with a game to spare if they avoid defeat at Red Bull Arena.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ancelotti said he expects a “great game” against Leipzig, who will join Madrid in the last 16 if they win and Shakhtar Donetsk lose to Celtic.
Madrid will be without star striker Karim Benzema, who is suffering from a thigh injury that also ruled him out of the weekend LaLiga victory over Sevilla.
The visitors have also travelled to Germany without Luka Modric, Fede Valverde, Dani Ceballos and Mariano Díaz.
Ancelotti’s pre-Leipzig press conference
Aims for Tuesday’s match:
“Put in a good performance that allows us to forget about the group stage. Our aim is to win the group and tomorrow is a chance to do that.”
Are you worried the World Cup could hurt Madrid’s momentum?
“No. We’re experiencing some very intense months with too many games, in my opinion. But we’re managing well. I think the World Cup is going to come at just the right time.”
Will players take fewer risks as the World Cup approaches?
“I don’t think players are thinking about the World Cup. Performing regularly for their clubs is just what they need. But I would understand it. We’re taking care of our players’ bodies, because it’s better to lose Benzema for a day than for a month. That’s the case of all the players in the sick bay. Ceballos will be back for Sunday.”
But are your players afraid of an injury on the eve of the tournament?
“Injuries are part and parcel of football. If you don’t want to get injured, don’t get off your sofa - that’s something I say. It can happen in training, with only the lightest of touches… it’s something that can happen and you can’t do anything about that. Everyone wants to train; no-one has said to me, ‘I don’t want to train because I’m afraid.’ I would say to him, ‘Stay at home, there are a lot of good films and series…’”
What are your thoughts on Marco Asensio’s future?
“Both you and the club know what I think. A number of players are going to be out of contract and the break could be the moment to talk about these issues. There is time and Asensio will be one of those issues.”
Is Tuesday’s game the moment to give players like Vinícius a rest?
“Vinícius will play; he isn’t tired.”
Between now and the World Cup, are Madrid’s LaLiga games more important than those in the Champions League?
“At this club, every game is important, regardless of whether it’s in the Champions League or LaLiga. There’s not long to go until the break and we want to go into it on a high, because we want to leave ourselves in a good position for when we come back.”
Have you made bets with any players other than Fede Valverde?
“No, I talked to Rodrygo [Goes], but only as a joke. He’s doing very well this year and what I’m asking him to do is to be influential this year too.”
Leipzig have trio of players out injured:
“They’re a side with really good players. I’m keeping a close eye on the Hungarian national team [which has three Leipzig players] and Leipzig’s players a really strong. Whoever plays for them tomorrow, they’ll do well.”
Memories of Leipzig visit during spell as Bayern Munich boss:
“We won here with a great goal late on; [David] Alaba scored it. We’ve talked about it on the odd occasion. Leipzig are a better team now, because they’ve grown in confidence and are better organised. It’s going to be a great game tomorrow.”
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