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Ancelotti: “Bellingham will play in the Clásico”

The Italian spoke before the game against Barcelona

Carlo Anceloti Press Conference After Real Madrid Training Day Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images

Ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti faced the press at Valdebebas. One of the hot topics was the fitness of Jude Bellingham, and Ancelotti explained: “Tomorrow he will play, because he is well, recovered. The muscle overload is gone. I don’t have to explain to him what a Clásico is, everyone knows it. It’s a global match.”

Ancelotti on El Clásico

On the fixture itself, Ancelotti was clear that this meeting is the first of many this season, saying: “We’re motivated, it’s an important, special match. It will be the first Clásico of this season, but there will be more: The Supercopa, the return fixture, Copa, Champions League... this will only be the first one. And we’re in good shape.”

Ancelotti on the importance of the game

He continued to add to that as he was asked about what influence the game could have on the season: “It is very important, but the season is very long and to say that this decides a league title... it’s too much. The season is very long, very long. It will be a very competitive league with many more games.”

Ancelotti on Xavi’s 50-50 claim

In his press conference, Xavi reflected that both teams had a 50-50 chance with no favourite to take the win. Ancelotti appeared to agree when asked, saying: “A Clásico is always evenly matched. Competitive. I hope people enjoy it.”

Ancelotti on Kroos breaking into the team

One of the changes to the team in recent weeks has been the return of Toni Kroos. On that change, Ancelotti explained: “We are working with a new system and things are changing, sometimes we rotate to keep the team fresh and motivated.”

Ancelotti on Modrić possibly being benched

Asked about Luka Modrić and how he would handle being left out for such an high-profile fixture, Ancelotti’s response was cutting: “All my players are professionals and they don’t ask for explanations.”

Ancelotti on who will play at left-back

One of the big question marks in the Italian’s selection will be on the left side of defence, where three players are all in contention. On that topic, Ancelotti said: “Camavinga has done well; Mendy has an advantage because he was rested in Braga. I trust everyone. I know perfectly well that being a starter is as important as reinforcing in the second half, so it’s not so important who will start.”

Ancelotti on what worries him about Barcelona

Ancelotti also explained what he was expecting from his rivals on Saturday as he outlined what he was preparing for: “Barça is a great team in general, both attack and defence. This season they have brought in young players with a lot of quality. We expect the same Barça we’ve always faced.”

Ancelotti on Florentino Pérez’s decision not to attend

With Florentino Pérez not attending the match in Barcelona, reportedly because of a tweet from a Barcelona director about Vinícius, Ancelotti refused to go into detail: “I don’t know what the president has decided, I just know that he’ll decide it for the good of the club.”

Ancelotti on referee Gil Manzano

The refereeing choice of Jesús Gil Manzano has also been a major talking point since it was confirmed, with Barcelona not best pleased. On the referee, Ancelotti reflected: “He is one of the most highly rated referees in Europe. I know him very well. He has a profile that fits for tomorrow.”

Ancelotti on La Masia

Ancelotti was also asked about the strength of players coming through from La Masia and Barcelona’s youth system. In his response, Ancelotti admitted his admiration for the talents, but was keen to turn the focus to his own players, explaining: “Fermin, Lamine Yamal... they are very good, but we also have youngsters who are spectacular. Bellingham, Camavinga, Tchouameni, they’re very young. Sometimes we forget that we too have many young players and many players from the Real Madrid youth system.”

Ancelotti on why Barcelona give more chances to youngsters

That led to a question on why it is that Barcelona have given more opportunities to their young players this season and last. Ancelotti responded: “It’s difficult to answer. They have had a lot of injuries and that has given opportunities to players coming through. Because if a lot of players get injured during the season, you have to turn to the youth squad. Álvaro Rodríguez, Mario Martín, Nico Paz and Gonzalo are very close to playing with the first team.”

Ancelotti on Camavinga’s best position

With doubts surrounding whether Camavinga will start in the Clásico, Ancelotti was asked where he sees the Frenchman’s best potential. His answer was clear and concise: “Camavinga is a pivot. He can adapt to an interior midfielder or a full-back. The best position for his qualities is as a pivot.”

Ancelotti on Barcelona’s returning players

Xavi may also be able to count upon Robert Lewandowski, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Jules Koundé and Raphinha after all have been missing with injury before returning to training on Friday. On that, Ancelotti appeared to be unconcerned: “I don’t know, I haven’t looked at that. For us, it’s very important for Bellingham to play and the rest we want to be in the best team possible. Whoever plays, we have our role to try to do a good job tomorrow.”

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