Los Blancos manager Carlo Ancelotti met with the press on Friday to go over a few topics before his team takes the pitch against their bitter rivals Barcelona. He appeared to be in a calm, light-hearted mood. Here's what he said.
- With regards to Gareth Bale, Carlo will need today's training to decide if Bale ready to play versus Barcelona. Carlo feels that he used the international break well to try and get back into match fitness and could start, it's just a question of if he'll start tomorrow. Bale has played 178 minutes over five games for Madrid and has scored one goal.
- On the state of the club, Carlo thinks that the Clásico is a tough match in a week that's been good for the overall improvement of the squad.
- When it comes to the strikers, Benzema was praised by Carlo for his work against Juventus but he feels that Morata is in better shape fitness-wise and in terms of fatigue. He gave no indication as to which player will get the start.
- On the topic of Xabi Alonso, Carlo reinforced Xabi's importance to the squad but also praised Illarramendi for his match against Malaga, as well as Modric, Isco and Khedira in recent games. "For us [Xabi is] very important and above all, for the idea of our way of playing. It's true that after a difficult time, Illarramendi has played well, but he's young and doesn't have the same experience. I really liked Illarra against Málaga and Juventus. In the last few games the three in the middle have done well, giving balance to the team. They're doing a good job."
- "For us [Xabi is] very important and above all, for the idea of our way of playing. It's true that after a difficult time, Illarramendi has played well, but he's young and doesn't have the same experience. I really liked Illarra against Málaga and Juventus. In the last few games the three in the middle have done well, giving balance to the team. They're doing a good job."
- On his team's chances tomorrow: "I can't say who's the favorite. Everyone thinks it's Barcelona, which is not bad for us. We have the personality to play football and not just wait and defend... Motivation is very high and concentration as well. I'm confident because the last game they played at the Camp Nou was a great game. We're very enthusiastic".
- With Varane having the day off against Juventus, Carlo said that there's a good chance we'll be seeing the young French defender against Barcelona.
- As league shapes up to be a three horse race this season, Carlo acknowledged that the match tomorrow is important and that Atleti and Barca will push Real Madrid all the way, but that it is still too early to decide, at this moment, what the final result of the league will be no matter who wins this match.
- When asked about Barca and Tata Martino, Carlo had good things to say. "Coaching Barcelona isn't an easy task, following on from Vilanova and Guardiola, but he's doing a very good job. Their philosophy remains the same, though Neymar has arrived and their offensive quality is even better than last season."
The team will have one final training session today in anticipation for the match at Camp Nou tomorrow. Ancelotti gave no hints as to who his starters will be but he should have a better idea after practice today.