Carlo Ancelotti not planning major changes for Real Madrid’s Union Berlin clash

By Sports Desk December 11, 2023

Carlo Ancelotti says he is not planning major player rotation for Tuesday’s final Champions League group game against Union Berlin in Germany.

Real have already won their group and reached the last 16 following five successive victories.

They are the only team in the tournament with a 100 per cent record, but, even though it is an emphatic case of job done, manager Ancelotti does not envisage wholesale changes.

Real drew 1-1 at Real Betis on Saturday and Ancelotti said: “We need to evaluate how the players that played against Betis recover, then we will choose the best possible starting XI.

“If there are some tired players who don’t recover very well, they will rest, but we don’t think about a big rotation with a lot of players resting.

“We will rotate some players if we see any risk, if the players are tired. The ones who played and don’t have any fatigue will be no problem at all.

“Our main goal was to finish top of the group, so we want to put in a good performance and close out the group stage on a high.

Ancelotti has confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga will start in goal, but a lengthy list of injury absentees includes keeper Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior and Eduardo Camavinga.

“This is a very special competition,” Ancelotti added at his pre-match press conference in Berlin.

“Real Madrid are always favourites to win this competition whatever happens in the group stage.

“It is always difficult to win it, but we have the quality to fight for it until the end.”

Whether in-form England star Jude Bellingham, who has scored 16 goals in the Champions League and LaLiga this season, is rested or not remains to be seen.

But his stunning impact since moving to Real is not lost on his team-mates, least of all midfielder Lucas Vazquez.

“What a player. We are thrilled to have him here,” Vazquez told Real Madrid’s official website.

“The kind of player he is was clear from day one. He helps the team with his goals and works as hard as anyone.

“He is really enjoying Real Madrid, and I hope he can keep up his form and continue helping Madrid in every facet of the game.

“The team is on a great run, it’s been a strong start to the season. The aim is to finish with a 100 per cent record, so we will try and put on a good display and win the game.

“This season, despite all the injuries we’ve had, the team has not faltered from its winning mentality.

“Whoever plays, the team remains the same and that reflects very well on the group we have here.”

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