NEWS STORY. 25/01/2023. Alberto Navarro. Photographer: Helios de la Rubia
Carlo Ancelotti spoke in the Real Madrid City press room ahead of the Copa del Rey quarter-final against Atlético (9pm CET): "It's a derby and you have to prepare properly for it, like all derbies. It's a special match against a powerful team. We're looking forward to playing in our home stadium again after two months away. We're keen to be back in the company of our fans, especially for a match like a derby".
"We might be favourites, but that's only on paper. We'll see how the game starts and each team's spirit and motivation. We've done very well away this season, but we're looking forward to returning home and that's going to help us. It's special to play in front of our fans again and it's something special for us".
"We've got a chance to reach the semi-final of a major competition. We're aware of the strength of our opponents and beating Atlético is always very difficult. It's a derby and it's not a normal match, it's special. Atletico are getting better, they played really well in the last game, and it's going to be entertaining. We have to put our best possible team out and that's what I'll try to do".
Praise for Nacho
"I like him in every position and he always performs. He's so intelligent that he's a pessimist that can play in any position across the defence. He like to play more as a centre back and I'll keep him in mind and tomorrow he'll play full back (laughs). He's always reliable and I always consider him before I select a line up".
Kroos and Modric
"They can play together, there's no doubt in my mind. They've contributed, are contributing and will continue to contribute this season. They've been decisive in a lot of games and they'll continue to be so. The are professionals and they know very well what this club is about and the quality of this squad. They don't need an explanation when they don't play because they understand really well. This squad is in a moment of transition that everyone has to be aware of. The older players understand and are patience with the young players. Part of the success last season came from having a good atmosphere in the dressing room and having everyone motivated to play thanks to the patience of the younger generation and the understanding of the older players".
"He's not at his best after the World Cup. He's developing and contributing to the team. He's coming back from the World Cup and we've go to be patient with him. We're not asking Valverde to score goals but rather to contribute defensively and in attack. He's doing that and when he's back to his best, he'll score again".
Video.Ancelotti: “Tenemos ganas de volver con nuestra afición y más en un derbi”
"He's in good physical condition and has a great level of fitness. The mental element is very important for him as we need him and football needs him. We must protect him both physically and mentally. He's highly motivated, focused and he's not complaining right now. I'm sure he'll play his part for the team".
Alaba, Tchouameni and Hazard
"Alaba is available, but Tchouameni hasn't trained with the team yet and isn't available, same as Hazard. Carvajal and Lucas Vázquez are also out. We've got four out and we're gradually getting players back. The general shape of the team is getting better".
"Momentum is an important characteristic. He has to have momentum but at times he can pick up a yellow card. He's a good player in this respect and he doesn't kick out without the ball. He's aggressive thanks to his energy. His development is that of a modern central player. He covers a lot of ground in front of the centre-backs and this is very helpful for us defensively. He put in an outstanding performance against Athletic because he played so well in that position. It was no surprise, I liked him a lot defensively and he did a great job".
Future central midfield pairing of Camavinga and Tchouameni
"I have used Camavinga a lot as a right or left midfielder and the truth is that we can use him alongside Tchouameni because they bring energy and quality on the ball. It could be something for the future".
The referee: Soto Grado
"He refereed last year's Super Cup final and against Alavés last year. He's young, with a strong personality and personally I like him".
"The squad has been finalised until June. He's a player who came through the youth academy and we're assessing him and we'll take decisions on that at the end of the season".