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Ancelotti: “We’re not thinking about Mbappé, we’re focused on the Champions League final”

Had a pre-match press conference ahead of the Real Betis game.

Cadiz CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Carlos Ancelotti spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon, ahead of Real Madrid’s Friday night LaLiga Santander clash against Real Betis. Although many of the questions in the press conference were about the Champions League final and Kylian Mbappé, the coach started off by discussing the final league game of the campaign.

He previewed the match saying: “It has been a good season and the fans have supported us, so we want to put on a good performance for them in this final home game. We also want to keep up momentum and intensity, which will help us for the Champions League final.”

Many regular starters are going to feature against Real Betis, but Ancelotti explained that the Friday night line-up isn’t necessarily going to be the same starting XI as the Champions League final. He said: “No, that’s not exactly the plan. I want to give minutes to the players who need those minutes tomorrow in order to be ready for the final on May 28th. Those who didn’t feature against Cádiz should have more minutes here. Modrić, Marcelo and Isco will be back, for example. Now, we only have Alaba who is missing, but he’ll start training with the group again from Monday.”

Asked if he already knows his starting XI for the Liverpool game or if he has any doubts, the coach replied: “No, I have no doubts. It’s quite clear for me. The one thing I’m not sure about is if the players who start the match or the players who finish the match will be more important.”

Ancelotti on the several weeks of preparation for the Champions League final

Real Madrid have been able to spend more time focusing on the Champions League final than Liverpool, whose schedule has been busier and more intense. But, Ancelotti doesn’t think this will be such an issue once the match arrives. Asked if nerves could kick in for Real Madrid from having so much preparation time, he replied: “Liverpool have had a more difficult period than us because they’ve had so many matches, but then we both have a free week before the final. You might be a little nervous ahead of a final like this, but we feel happy about it and we’re enjoying the preparations for it. I’m glad we have so much time to prepare for it, for the most important match in football. If you are going to feel nervous or worried, it’s more likely to be just before the match. But, I enjoy that concern that comes before a big match.”

Ancelotti on the Mbappé transfer saga

The Kylian Mbappé transfer saga has dominated the headlines again this week and Ancelotti was asked if fans speak to him about the Frenchman when he’s out and about on the street. He replied: “I don’t spend much time on the street. I spend my time in Valdebebas, in my car, in my house and maybe in some of Madrid’s good restaurants. If anyone has spoken to me, they’ve asked me about the Champions League final. I think Real Madrid fans are more excited about the Champions League final right now, so we’re all just thinking about trying to win the 14th European Cup. Nothing more.”

Ancelotti on a double guard of honour

Debates about ‘pasillos’ have taken a new twist ahead of Friday night’s game, as it’ll be the league champions against the Copa del Rey winners. So, Ancelotti was asked about the possibility of a double guard of honour ahead of kick-off. He responded: “These are the two teams to have won the domestic competitions, so it should be a quality match. Real Betis play quality football. So, we’ll all enjoy it. I don’t know about the guards of honour, but I’d like to do one for Real Betis because they’ve won a very important tournament.”

Ancelotti on managing the farewells

Friday night’s game will be the last one at the Bernabéu for some players whose contracts are expiring, but Ancelotti hasn’t spoken to them about turning the Real Betis game into a farewell. He explained: “We haven’t spoken about goodbyes, because everyone is focused on the final, even the players with expiring contracts.”

On Gareth Bale specifically, the coach added: “He’s still not 100 percent, so we’ll see tomorrow if he can make the bench or if he’ll be out of the squad. Everyone knows that he is leaving, but I don’t think it’s so important if he plays tomorrow or not. What’s important is what he has done for the history of this club, in the Copa del Rey final, the Décima, the Kyiv final… Whether he plays or not tomorrow, we should all remember this.”