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Ancelotti: “Álvaro is ready, but it’ll be Rodrygo starting at centre-forward vs Espanyol”

The coach’s quotes ahead of the Espanyol game.

Real Betis v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Real Madrid didn’t have a midweek fixture and they’ll return to action in the early kick-off on Saturday against Espanyol. Discussing the full week of training and also the games that are coming up, Carlo Ancelotti said in his Friday press conference: “We had the chance to work in a way we haven’t been able to do for most of the season. We worked tactically, we worked on attack. We now have a big week with tomorrow’s game, the Liverpool second leg and the Clásico. This is an important point of the season. We want to reach the Barcelona game in good form, which means winning tomorrow and reaching the Champions League quarter-finals. We know that Espanyol are fighting for survival and that they’re very motivated. They’ll be solid and well organised in defence, trying to make the most of Joselu, who is very dangerous. We need to be focused because it’ll be a difficult game.”

Ancelotti on Benzema’s absence

Benzema will miss the Espanyol game with an ankle issue and the coach explained the problem, stating: “Karim had a blow to his ankle and it is swollen. He did some individual training today and he’ll be available for Wednesday’s match. It has affected us a little that he hasn’t been able to reach his level of last season. But, injuries happen. We still think he’ll be important from now to the end of the season. We’re convinced of that.”

Ancelotti on replacing Benzema vs Espanyol

Although there have been calls for Álvaro Rodríguez to get the start at No.9 against Espanyol, Ancelotti announced that it’ll be Rodrygo instead. He explained: “Rodrygo will start at centre-forward. Rodrygo needs to play where the team needs him, which is sometimes out wide and sometimes in the middle. It’s good that he can play in various positions and we have to make the most of this. I think Álvaro is prepared. Even if he doesn’t have experience yet, that’s the same with anyone who is starting something new. He has the quality to be in from the first minute.”

Ancelotti on the return of Mendy

The Italian also confirmed that Ferland Mendy is almost ready to return, while he dismissed the idea that Eduardo Camavinga should continue at left-back even once Mendy is available again. He said: “Mendy is recovered and I think he could be ready for the Liverpool game. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Camavinga is a midfielder and, as emergency, he can play at left-back.”

Ancelotti on similarities with 2015

Asked if he notices any similarities with the current poor run of form and the way the 2014/15 season ended, the coach replied: “I don’t have to think back to 2015, as this happens every year. There will be difficult points in a season and, when that happens, there is criticism. I don’t have to look that far back to find criticism.”

Ancelotti on signing Mbappé

The age-old question of whether Ancelotti wants to sign Kylian Mbappé was brought up and he replied: “That’s a question you can ask today, in three days, in a week, in a month, in three months… and it’s a question I’ll never answer.”

Ancelotti on the Negreira case

There was also the weekly question about the Negreira case, but the Italian still doesn’t want to discuss it. He said: “It’s very complicated. I’d rather not look back and I’d rather stick with the present.”

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