Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football European

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti plays down Atletico Madrid threat

By Staff Reporter

Displaying all the self-confidence of a coach who has already won the Champions League three times, Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti glided through his pre-match media duties yesterday.

He dwelled on the memory of beating tonight's opponents Atletico Madrid in the final last season and made light of the fact that Atletico have won four of the subsequent six games between the two sides.

Bombarded with questions referring to those six Madrid derbies - two in La Liga, two in the Super Cup and two in the Copa del Rey - and the fact that Real have not won a single one of them, Ancelotti reminded everyone that in the Champions League a team can go through without winning either one of the two legs.

That threw the room completely and had some asking for confirmation that Real would actually be playing to win tonight's quarter-final first leg at the Vicente Calderon.

"We will play to win but we can go through with two draws," said the Italian coach.

He also had his inquisitors twisting one way and then the other over the possibility of Gareth Bale starting the game.

"If Bale is not 100 per cent fit he will not play because we have everyone available," Ancelotti said of the Welsh striker, who sat out Saturday's 3-0 win over Eibar.

After a pause that left the idea that local favourite Isco could start hanging in the air, he added: "But he (Bale) is 100 per cent."

Meanwhile, Juventus are within touching distance of their fourth consecutive Serie A title, but a victory tonight at home to Monaco in the Champions League could be even more meaningful.

All great teams must prove themselves in Europe and Juventus' recent dominance of the Italian league, first under Antonio Conte and now Massimiliano Allegri, has not been reflected in the Champions League.

Juventus have lost their last three quarter-finals, last reaching the semi-finals when they were runners-up to Milan in 2003.

Defender Giorgio Chiellini spoke of how the team has matured.

"A couple of years ago, aside from the old guard, there were very few players on this team who could boast international experience and a number of big games behind them," said Chiellini said.

"That increased after our participation in Europe."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph