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Carlo Ancelotti: "Tomorrow's game is very important but not decisive"

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The Italian coach talked to the media before the game against Atlético de Madrid. While he didn't discuss tomorrow's starting lineup, it's clear that the team will enter the Vicente Calderón very confident. He also shared the latest news on Sami Khedira's recovery.

Alex Grimm

The first question for Carlo Ancelotti was about the possibility of using Raphael Varane tomorrow:

"Varane might play because he's fine. I won't give the lineup this time. I'll make the choice tomorrow. Good thing is that the entire team is ready to play."

Asked if he's worried about the game being rough or even violent:

"It's going to be an intense game, that's normal. But I don't think it's going to be an ugly game. It will be tough and complicated. We're going to try our game because if we want to beat Atlético we need to do our best."

Real Madrid is going through a great streak and are considered favourites to win, but how do they handle the pressure?

"It's normal to have some pressure in this game because it's a derby and you have two teams fighting for La Liga. While it's normal, you still have to regulate the pressure. You can't worry about being favourites or not. We have a three-point lead so you can say that we're favourites but at the same time, you can argue that Atlético has the advantage because they're playing at home with their fans."

The team is currently first place in La Liga, a Copa del Rey finalist and looks like a strong team in Champions League so the treble looks like an actual possibility:

"We're not thinking about it because there a lot of games left to play and we know how hard it is to do that. You have to focus on every game. We did that against Schalke and now it's time to focus on tomorrow's important game. It's not good to think about winning them all, it's good thinking about winning one game at a time."

On Atlético being undefeated at home this season:

"We have to do our best both on defence and on offence. We have to play with courage, with personality. You need to do your best to beat Atlético."

Asked about Álvaro Arbeloa being left out of Spain's National team and his chances of playing tomorrow:

"When he's played, Arbeloa has shown that he's in great shape and that he's focused. He's been good in every game, playing with a lot of attention on defence. He wants to go to the World Cup and I believe that if he keeps it up he'll get there. We'll see about tomorrow."

On the importance of tomorrow's game:

"It's a long season. It's an important game because you can either get a six-point lead or they can take three points from us. That's why it's important. The season is still very long and we still have to play a lot of games and nothing is decisive yet."

On why Xabi Alonso feels comfortable on the team's system:

"First of all, because he has the quality and intelligence to play in every system. Second, while it's just three players in midfield, the forwards also work very well. They've scored a lot but they've also focused on putting pressure up there and that helps the entire team. That's why Alonso, who has an important defensive duty and gives balance to the team, feels comfortable, because the rest of the team works very well."

Diego Simeone has been great for Atlético and Carletto had no problem praising him:

"He's doing a fantastic job. It's not just this year. They've won a lot the last few years thanks to Simeone's work. A coach shows his characteristics through his team and Atlético has a very clear identity, with a lot of character and it depends a lot on Simeone's hard work and ability."

Asked about if his performance against Schalke is going to help Gareth Bale:

"Yes, because Bale is regaining good mental and physical condition and that shows on the pitch. After his great goal against Elche, he also played really well against Schalke. His confidence is getting better as well as his association with his teammates."

On the "recipe" for being as good as Real Madrid has been lately:

"There's no recipe. I have a very professional roster that understands the importance of working together. That's what we're doing. We had time to achieve it and we did. But we have to be very careful because things change very quickly in football, both for the good and the bad. Now we have to sacrifice and work to keep living in a good moment."

On Karim Benzema's phenomenal moment:

"Benzema has always had this quality. He's a player with a great ability to score but he's not just a striker for us. He assists, he helps with the possession of the ball. He's feeling comfortable and I hope he can remain that way."

Next, Ancelotti was asked about Sami Khedira's recovery and if he feels that it's thanks to Sami's injury that he has been able to find his ideal lineup:

"Not "thanks" to it, no. He's a very important player for us. His recovery is going really well. Three months and a half later, he started running again. I think he returns to Madrid to work with his teammates in the next 15 or 20 days. I hope he will be able to play before the season ends. I don't know if he would be able to play tomorrow if he was available because his teammates are doing it really well. Without him, it's a lot easier to choose who's going to play."

It's no secret that Real Madrid has been really successful at the Vicente Calderón. They haven't lost at a game there in 16 years. Still, the Italian coach knows those stats don't mean a thing on game day:

"I don't think the stats will affect the game tomorrow. The other day, we didn't have a good stat about playing in Germany yet we still won. The stats don't say anything to me. Real Madrid has been good at the Calderón but that stat means nothing tomorrow. It's a different game."

Finally, he was asked about how confident is the team after the win against Schalke:

"We're confident but it's not just because of that win. We're living a great moment and we're working really well for tomorrow's game. It will be tough because it's a derby and we're facing a team that's fighting for La Liga. It's going to be difficult but we definitely enter the game with a lot of confidence."