Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said he plans to keep things simple as he prepares his side ahead of their match at home with Barcelona in the “El Clasico” tie on Sunday.
The Italian said he would avoid big changes to his team this time, after he put midfielder Luka Modric up front to replace the then injured striker Karim Benzema in the last El Clasico in March — only to get hammered 4-0 by the Catalans.
“I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, you can count on that,” Ancelotti, known as Don Carlo, told a news conference on Saturday with a wry smile.
“Last time I tried to play the inventor, they gave me a beating. So I don’t expect we will be doing anything out of the ordinary on Sunday.
“We will play like we usually do. They are a great rival and we need to be on top of our game.”
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid. File picture
Ancelotti said goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will miss the game due to lack of practice as he gets over the back injury that led him to miss the last four matches.
But he confirmed that he will have the services of defender Antonio Rudiger, who had 20 stitches in his forehead after clattering into Shakhtar Donetsk’s goalkeeper in their Champions League match on Tuesday.
“He will need a protective face mask but is clear to play. Rudiger is a warrior and if you look at him, he is so excited and looking forward to Sunday’s game,” Ancelotti said.
The Real boss said Barcelona’s disappointing Champions League performances would not be a factor. Barca have only won one of their four Champions League games and are on the verge of elimination from Europe’s elite competition at the group stage for the second straight season.
Barca manager Xavi Hernandez said the game is an opportunity to regain some confidence. “I’m always an optimist and I see this game as a great opportunity for us. We are the (La Liga) leaders and we want to continue to be as of Sunday,” Xavi told a news conference. “We want to leave the past behind. If we are positive, everything will be fine.
Xavi’s top hit-man Robert Lewandowski said it’s time to face the reality and focus on the Clasico. “After a bad game (against Inter) you have to face reality in the best possible way and show that you can play good football and win,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a difficult moment but we know we have the chance of the Clasico, of going out there to win the game, show that we are going for La Liga, that we play good football,” he added.
⚫ Live on Sports18 1 and MTV 7.45pm IST onwards
Written with inputs from Reuters