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Ancelotti: “Lunin will start the derby, I’ll decide the rest of the line-up tomorrow”

Courtois will be given a rest in the derby.

Real Madrid v Manchester City Semi Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Ahead of Sunday’s Madrid derby, Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media and discussed the incredible week that has just passed, as well as looking ahead to the match against Atlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The coach said in his pre-match press conference: “What a week we’ve had, winning the league and reaching the Champions League final! If we now win the final then this will certainly have been the best season of my career. I said earlier in the season that we were in the honeymoon period, but it has been a very long honeymoon!”

Asked for an injury update, Ancelotti replied: “I’ll decide the full line-up tomorrow, as we have some players who can’t play like David Alaba, Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Isco. We’ve had a couple of days of rest, but I’ll rotate some players. Tomorrow, Courtois will rest and Andriy Lunin will start. We need to try to keep up our rhythm in these final four matches. Even if there’s nothing to play for, we need to stay sharp and we need to respect the competition and the shirt we wear. This shirt means we always need to give our best.”

Discussing the strengths of this Real Madrid squad, the coach said: “The main quality I see in this group is humility. There are no arrogant players. Having an ego isn’t a bad thing, but we have humble players. None of them feel more important than any of the others.”

Ancelotti on the guard of honour debate

All week long, there has been a debate in the Spanish media about whether or not Atlético Madrid should or will give Real Madrid a guard of honour before Sunday night’s derby. Ancelotti was always going to be asked about this in his press conference and he replied: “Ooft. Each team should do what they want and feel and we should respect that decision. Atlético Madrid is a club we respect a lot. They’re neighbours and friends and I respect the players, fans and coach. If they do a guard of honour, then good. If not, then it doesn’t matter.”

Ancelotti on his retirement

The coach recently claimed he’d consider retiring when he is finished at Real Madrid and he was asked about that again. He started his response by joking: “If everything goes well here, I’d stay until I’m 80! Why not? But, I feel like when I finish here at Real Madrid then I might consider retiring. Finding a better team than Real Madrid would be tough. That’s not a problem. I have many plans for afterwards. I can spend time being a fan firstly, a grandfather second and a husband third. No, husband first! Then grandfather and then a fan.”

Ancelotti on Davide Ancelotti

Asked to expand on his son Davide’s role in the team, the head coach replied: “First and foremost, he’s my son. Secondly, he’s an assistant. He is here because he is capable. He is humble, serious and professional. He’s enthusiastic, like all young people.”

Ancelotti on Carvajal’s return to form

Dani Carvajal has played well again in recent weeks and the coach was asked about the right-back’s return to form, to which he said: “I think he has suffered a lot with his physical issues, but he has a lot of character and has responded. He is a fundamental piece in this squad.”

Ancelotti on Bale’s absences from the celebrations

Real Madrid have had a lot to celebrate this past week, with the league title and the Manchester City comeback. But, Gareth Bale wasn’t present for those celebrations. Asked if the Welshman is increasingly distant from his teammates, Ancelotti replied: “All the players like Bale and he likes them. If he wasn’t there then it’s because he couldn’t be there. If you have a problem in the back, it’s difficult to move. It’s happened to me. The fact he wasn’t at these events was because he couldn’t move, not because he is distant from the rest of the squad.”