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Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti reveals plan to stop Erling Haaland in Manchester City pre-match press conference

Los Blancos will host Pep Guardiola’s City in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday.

Los Blancos will host Pep Guardiola’s City in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday.

For the second season running, Real Madrid will face Manchester City in the semi-finals of the Champions League, with the first leg taking place at Estadio Santiago Bernabeú on Tuesday and the return following on Wednesday 16 May at the Etihad. Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the press ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Pep Guardiola’s side, explaining how his team would attempt to stop goal-machine Erling Haaland and how the Norwegian had affected City’s style of play, as well as giving an update on the fitness of key midfield man Luka Modric.

What’s the game plan for tomorrow?

Our game plan for tomorrow is to put in a complete performance and play at our best in terms of physicality, technique, and motivation. The second leg will decide the outcome of the tie. But we want to take advantage tomorrow.

Luka Modric “will play” against Manchester City

What result would suit you going into the second leg?

A positive result would give us an advantage. Having a small advantage would make us feel good about ourselves going into the match. Not being up against it. It’s not just about the result. If you manage to avoid having problems, that can also be a small advantage. We will try to do well tomorrow. It’s very demanding on everyone. But when you reach a semi-final, that’s normal.

Will Modric play tomorrow?

He’s fine. He’ll play tomorrow.

Stopping Erling Haaland

How do you stop Erling Haaland?

He’s very dangerous. He’s incredibly impressive when it comes to scoring goals, that’s obvious. Talking about Haaland means not just talking about one player, but also about a complete team that attacks and has lots of ideas... Our game plan isn’t just to stop Haaland, but rather to stop a team that seems unstoppable. But I think it’s possible for us. We can win.

Are Real Madrid in better shape than this time last year?

We’re at the same level. It’s difficult to judge the players’ physical conditions. What matters is our motivation and levels of enthusiasm. Winning the Copa del Rey will also be an additional motivation. We’re really up for it.

Manchester City’s evolution under Pep Guardiola

Has Haaland changed Guardiola’s style of play?

They’re a more complete team now. Last year they had a very dangerous forward in Gabriel Jesus, but he was very different to Haaland. Now, they can even play a long ball game. In many matches, that’s given them an advantage. That doesn’t mean they have changed their style. They are well-organised defensively and good in possession.

How have Real Madrid changed compared to last year?

Our mentality has changed. Last year, we went into the game having not won the competition for three years. That’s what has changed. Madrid are always up for it.

Have you decided on your midfield line-up?

Modric and two others. Camavinga plays as a wing-back without the ball. With the ball, he changes and moves into central midfield. Sometimes he even plays between the lines. He’s not a full-back who pushes forward on the outside. Out wide, we have Vinicius, who is quite dangerous. He’s only a full-back when we don’t have the ball.

How do you think the other match will go?

I was fortunate to be involved in a Milan derby in a Champions League semi-final in 2003. There was a lot of pressure on both teams in terms of technique and tactics.

Copa del Rey comedown?

Fatigue after the Copa del Rey final

The physical element of the game is not going to be the most important one. Me being tired and Valverde being tired (both had spoken about it after the cup victory over Osasuna) are two completely different things entirely (laughter).

How have you helped Vinicius and Rodrygo become key players for the team?

I have helped by giving them game time. They are making the most of it. They are making great progress. The progress that the likes of Valverde, Camavinga and Rodrygo are making gives us hope for the future. And that means tomorrow.

Haaland-Courtois battle

I don’t know. Our game plan isn’t to stop a single player. It’s to stop a whole team, especially when they have the ball. Haaland player is really important, but focusing only on him would mean forgetting about others.

Is defending or attacking more important tomorrow?

If you defend well, the worst that can happen is a draw. But that doesn’t mean we won’t attack. Let’s not forget that last year we conceded five goals against City and scored six in two matches. I would sign up for that again this year.


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