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Ancelotti: “The question mark in my line-up is whether to opt for three forwards or just two”

The coach spoke to the media in Manchester.

Real Madrid Training and Press Conference - Etihad Stadium Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti has previewed Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final tie with Manchester City, stating that he expects an open tie and pointing our that his team have been labelled as the underdogs in every knockout tie so far.

In the pre-match press conference, the coach said: “The fact they’ve changed the away goals rule means it’ll be a more open tie. We’ll have to play 180 minutes well. In these types of games there’s a mix of happiness for being close to the final of the most important competition in the world and the concerns that come with playing such a strong team. We’ve had a tough draw so far, with the other teams always the favourites. I remember the press and most people said Real Madrid wouldn’t go far in the Champions League. The favourites at the start of the season were Liverpool and Manchester City, plus PSG and Chelsea. But, two teams have made it who weren’t expected to, Real Madrid and Villarreal. I always said we’d compete and we’re going to do that tomorrow and next week. But, for Real Madrid, it’s not usually a success to just reach the semi-final.”

The Italian also provided an injury update, ranking the concerns that exist with Ferland Mendy, David Alaba and Casemiro. He said: “Mendy is good, there are some doubts about Alaba and there are more doubts with Casemiro, Alaba is closer than Casemiro.”

Despite the injuries, Real Madrid do come into this game with more rest since they didn’t have a game at the weekend. Asked if this is an advantage, he replied: “I don’t know if it’s better to play every three days or not. Of course there is more risk of injuries. But, to go from one game to another, the players are used to that and there won’t be a problem. I don’t think we have an advantage in that sense.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid’s tactics against Manchester City

The coach provided some thoughts on how his side will approach this clash. He firstly explained the main decision he has to make with the line-up, stating: “The doubt I have is whether to opt for three forwards or just two. We need to think about this, as players like Rodrygo and Camavinga are doing really well. That’s the question mark we have.”

He went on to provide a more general outlook, stating: “Defending well with be an important part of the game. It’s very simple. When Manchester City have the ball, you can’t just watch. You have to defend and try to win it back. Maybe it’s with a high, medium or low pressure. Then, when we win it back, we have to try to make the most of our quality. Maybe that’s done with playing out from the part or long balls or with one-on-one duels with our quality on the wings. There’s not many secrets. I think that’s how it’ll go tomorrow.”

Ancelotti on LaLiga Santander being won

When it was put to Ancelotti that the league title is now wrapped up, he agreed with that sentiment, something he hadn’t done previously. But, when it was put to him that he can play the reserves against Espanyol in between the two legs of this semi-final tie, he dismissed that, saying: “We are much closer to winning the league and want to win it on Saturday in our stadium.”

Ancelotti on a past Guardiola comment

Ahead of the 2013/14 semi-final between Ancelotti’s Real Madrid and Guardiola’s Bayern, the Catalan coach labelled the members of Los Blancos’ squad as “athletes”, a comment that didn’t go down well with the Spanish press. But, Ancelotti wasn’t bothered by it. Asked if that comment still annoys him, the Italian explained he didn’t even remember it. He said: “No, I don’t remember that, but I do have a good memory of that match. But, tomorrow’s will be a different situation.”