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Ancelotti: “At Real Madrid we’ve never seen ourselves as Champions League favourites”

The coach also gave an update on Dani Carvajal’s fitness

Ahead of Real Madrid v Union Berlin - UEFA Champions League Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the press before Wednesday’s fixture against Union Berlin, with the Italian addressing a range of topics before kicking off this season’s Champions League campaign. The competition is one of the club’s favourites, but Ancelotti was adamant that while he backs his team, he doesn’t believe they are favourites. He said, “I see a team that will compete, compete until the end, but we’ve never thought we’re favourites and I’m sure Manchester City won’t think that either today. As a football fan, I think they won it last year and you can say that they are favourites this year.”

Ancelotti on Manchester City as Champions League favourites

Ancelotti was asked about his view on Manchester City being given the tag of favourites for this season’s competition, and he agreed with that view, saying, “I think Manchester City are favourites, more than anything because their squad let them win last season and it hasn’t changed much. Above all, they won it last year. In the Champions League there are always surprises in the final stages, but today Manchester City are the favourites.”

Ancelotti on Real Madrid’s objective

That led on to questions about how he saw this season going for Real Madrid in the tournament. He kept his reply simple, referring to his previous lines regarding the aim each season, as he explained, “our objective is to qualify from the group stage, then the last 16, and so on. We want to compete and fight in the final stages.”

Ancelotti on changes since last season

The coach was also asked about what has changed since last season, when the team were ultimately knocked out of the Champions League by the eventual winners, Manchester City, and whether his team is as ready to succeed as they were a year ago. He said, “we’re just as ready as last year. We’ve changed some players in the squad, some have left and some have arrived. Those who have arrived have added a lot, what Fran García and Joselu, Bellingham too, are doing is adding value.”

Ancelotti on the Champions League

Despite that, the coach’s focus remains squarely on the upcoming meeting with Union Berlin on Wednesday evening and he addressed the occasion directly as he said, “the Champions League for us is always a special competition. We’re going to play tomorrow’s game as something special, we want to start the group stage well. Tomorrow we have an opportunity to play at home against a well-organised rival, a team which is solid and clinical. We need to play an intense game.”

Ancelotti on Dani Carvajal’s injury

One of the big news stories to break on Tuesday morning was the injury which saw Dani Carvajal miss training one day before the game, and on that Ancelotti explained, “Dani Carvajal has an overload so we’ve decided to give him a rest. Tomorrow we’ll do tests and see how he’s doing. He feels quite good so we don’t think it’s anything serious and we hope he can be back soon. As of today, he could play on Sunday but we’ll do tests on him tomorrow. His feeling is quite good.”

Ancelotti on who would replace Carvajal

With the full-back seemingly ruled out of featuring against Union Berlin, Ancelotti was asked if he had already chosen a replacement. He responded, “I know who, Lucas. If I didn’t know, I’d be screwed. Lucas Vázquez.”

Ancelotti on whether or not Luka Modrić will play

As is the case almost weekly, Ancelotti was asked about Luka Modrić and his relationship with the Croatian. He was also pushed to reveal whether he could start in the Real Madrid midfield against Union Berlin, which Ancelotti confirmed as he explained, “Luka is good, like all the players I speak to him every day and the personal relationship I have with him is the same as he has with me, it’s a professional relationship. I told him he isn’t playing like before, that could affect him a bit but our personal relationship is still fantastic and it doesn’t impact them. When he leaves here, our relationship will still be good. That said, tomorrow will he be on the bench? No, he will play.”

Ancelotti on Union Berlin

German media were intrigued by how Ancelotti had prepared for this battle against Union Berlin, a side without a rich pedigree of European footabll. The Italian analysed that “it’s true that they’re a new team in the Champions League, but just being here means they’ve done things very well last year. They’re very well organised and are structured well defensively. As a coach, you need to know everything that a rival can do and we’ve studied Union Berlin a lot to make sure we can play a good game.”

Ancelotti on the unity of the German side

The German press were keen to highlight the name of the team, Union, and whether that reflected how they play, a notion that Ancelotti agreed with, “the name explains that Union Berlin are a solid team, I don’t know if their name means that but they play as a unit and as a team. They don’t have qualities which make them stand out but it’s their team play.”

Ancelotti on Rafa Nadal as a possible Real Madrid president

Ancelotti was also quizzed on the possibility of having Rafa Nadal as a possible Real Madrid president after he opened the door to such an opportunity after attending Sunday’s win over Real Sociedad. Ancelotti said, “all the time I’ve been here I’ve had a president who is Florentino Pérez, who is doing a fantastic job and who is the best possible president for Real Madrid. We’re very proud to have Rafa Nadal, I have total admiration for him as a sportsman, we’re proud he is a true Madridista.”

Ancelotti on Arda Güler’s fitness

In a positive fitness update, Ancelotti also revealed that Arda Güler is close to a return to full training with the first team. He shared that, “he’s good, he’s ending his individual work and he’ll join the team for training on Monday.”

Ancelotti on the Spanish women’s national team

As the controversy surrounding the Spanish women’s national team continued, with players called up seemingly against their wishes, the Real Madrid coach refused to comment on the situation, saying, “I won’t get involved in this topic. I have a lot of respect for the players and I don’t have to add anything else.”

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