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Ancelotti: “The Madrid Derby is a very demanding game, we have to be smart”

The Italian coach talked to Real Madrid TV ahead of Sunday’s crucial Derby.

Real Madrid v FC Internazionale: Group D - UEFA Champions League Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has talked to Real Madrid TV in a brief interview ahead of Sunday’s Madrid Derby against Atletico de Madrid, which is expected to be a crucial game in the race for the 2021-2022 La Liga title.

Ancelotti knows that it won’t be easy to beat Atletico and wants his players to be ready for battle.

“I think it’ll be a hard-fought game. There are some key aspects when you come up against teams like them, such as duels, set pieces, open spaces… because they’re very strong defensively. They’re a threat on the counter-attack and we’ll have to prepare in these areas and be smart,” he said.

The Italian coach said that his players are feeling well and shared his thoughts about Benzema’s status for the Derby.

“The team’s in good shape. We’ve got a few days to monitor the progress of Benzema, who trained on his own today. Casemiro is fine and the rest of them are fit and ready. Some of them were a bit tired today, but that’s to be expected given that we played just two days ago. We’ll do a pretty big tactical session tomorrow and some light preparation on Saturday in the build-up,” he explained.

Real Madrid have improved defensively in recent weeks and Ancelotti wanted to praise his team for the effort.

“Courtois put in a great performance against Sevilla, as did Militão. Alaba continues to be very consistent and the same goes for Mendy. Then you’ve also got the work that the players in front of them do. For example, there’s the job that Vini Jr. does. Everyone talks about what he’s doing on the ball, but he’s also doing really well out of possession and that applies to Rodrygo too. The work that both of them are doing is helping the team to keep clean sheets,” he added.

Ancelotti concluded his interview by trying to put into words the rivalry between these two teams.

“There’s big rivalry between the fans and the players and everyone involved. Atlético want to beat Madrid and Madrid want to beat Atlético,” he said.

Real Madrid are now 10 points ahead of Atletico in the table —with Simeone’s men having one game at hand—, so this game could increase Madrid’s lead in La Liga against the reigning champions.