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Ancelotti: “Vinícius’ injury is forgotten, he’ll be in the squad against Atlético”

The Real Madrid coach previewed the derby

Real Madrid CF v 1. FC Union Berlin: Group C - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Following Saturday morning’s training session at Valdebebas, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s LaLiga derby against Atlético Madrid at the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano. One of the major talking points was the fitness of Vinícius Júnior, and Ancelotti revealed that he will be involved, saying: “Vinícius has trained with the team, he’s in a good condition and his injury is forgotten. He’ll be in the squad and tomorrow I’ll decide what role he will play. Carvajal won’t be there, he’s still missing something, and Arda Güler will start on Monday fully with the team. Mendy and Ceballos are completely recovered.”

Ancelotti on the risk of Vini returning

After having been expected to be out for six weeks, Vinícius is back only four weeks later, and that led to questions on whether his involvement could pose a risk. Ancelotti responded: “There is zero risk. He trained yesterday because there was zero risk. He trained today because there is zero risk. If we think there is one percent risk tomorrow, he won’t play. What’s important is that Vinícius has recovered. I’ve told him that he’s missing some conditioning after a month out, but we’ll evaluate it tomorrow.”

Ancelotti on Bellingham’s training absence

On Friday, Jude Bellingham missed training due to a stomach issue, but the coach showed that he had no concerns about his wellbeing, saying: “No, it’s just a story, he didn’t feel good on Thursday but he has trained normally today and he’ll be good to play.”

Ancelotti on his fears without Bellingham

Following that question, Ancelotti was asked if he was concerned about the possibility of Bellingham being unavailable for Sunday’s match. He reacted: “What do you want me to say? I cried for three or four hours? No, if Bellingham isn’t available, we’ll have someone else. The squad has showed that we have options and can resolve the situation. If Bellingham isn’t there for one game, we’ll put somebody else in.”

Ancelotti on rotations in midfield

The midfield in particular is well-stocked at Real Madrid, with several options for Ancelotti to choose from and giving him a selection headache after Toni Kroos’ impressive performance off the bench in midweek. Ancelotti was asked about his thoughts on rotation, and he responded clearly: “Leaving not only Kroos or Modrić on the bench is hard, the same for Valverde, the competition in midfield is strong and the reflection with the team is that when we make a change, the player coming off is sad, and the player coming in is happy. I understand that you come off sad, you think I’m changing you because you’re not playing well, but very often it’s because I have resources and I want to put someone fresh. I tell them not to be sad, only to be sad if they haven’t given 100% and if you have given 100%, you don’t have to feel sad, especially if the guy coming in has a lot of quality.”

That led to journalists asking if his words were motivated by a specific incident involving one of his players, but he rejected that idea: “I don’t just talk about my players, I talk about any team. When a player comes off, he’s sad. I say only be sad if you haven’t given 100%, it’s not a case of any specific player here.”

Ancelotti on the derby

Ahead of Sunday’s derby, Ancelotti was clear on the importance of the game for his players. He explained: “Always before a big game like tomorrow, we have a good feeling and we’re hopeful and excited. We’re looking forward to facing a team with a lot of resources, everything is normal and there’s nothing new. There’s excitement about a big game and to have the good dynamic that we have right now.”

Ancelotti on form going into the derby

While Real Madrid have won every game this season, Atlético lost heavily to Valencia last weekend and conceded an injury-time equaliser against Lazio in midweek. However, Ancelotti doesn’t think that form matters in a derby as he reflected: “I think the derby is always a great opportunity, whether you’re in a good moment or a bad one. A derby is always a special game, they are the two teams from the capital, two teams with a lot of quality. It will be and always has been a game with a lot of intensity and beautiful to watch. I don’t think that Atlético’s defeat to Valencia matters, they had a very good game against Lazio, and I don’t think they’ll affect this, tomorrow’s game is different.”

Ancelotti on his focus against Atlético

Even at this early a stage of the season, Ancelotti was asked whether a win against Atlético Madrid could put the Rojiblancos out of the title race. The Italian was adamant in his response that he was not concerned by Atlético’s hopes, saying: “We want to win, not to put Atlético in a difficult position, we want to win to get points and try to win LaLiga.”

Ancelotti on comparing the derby to a Clásico

The coach was asked about the difference between a Madrid derby and a Clásico, and if he had any preference, but he insisted that he treats both games in the same way: “There’s no difference for me. We like to prepare for these games and be the stars. There is a special tension and we’re excited to do all we can to be the stars.”

Ancelotti on racism towards Vinícius

With Vinícius set to be called up and following the disgusting scenes of racist chanting in last year’s derby, Ancelotti was asked if he expected any issues this time around. After reflecting, the coach said. “I think that something has changed since last year, and I'm not talking about the Wanda but also Valencia, and I think that the atmosphere is more serene, respectful and I think that tomorrow will be the same.”

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