Carlo Ancelotti expects even tougher test as Real prepare to meet Atletico again

By Sports Desk January 17, 2024

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has warned his side face a tougher test on Thursday when they play arch-rivals Atletico for the second time in eight days.

The two Spanish giants go head-to-head in the Copa del Rey’s last 16 at the Metropolitano Stadium with Atleti seeking revenge after last week’s thrilling Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat to Real in Saudi Arabia.

Ancelotti’s side scored twice in extra time in Riyadh to edge it 5-3 – they beat Barcelona 4-1 in Sunday’s final – but the Italian expects Diego Simeone’s Atleti to thrive in front of their own fans.

“The (Atleti) team is good,” Ancelotti told a press conference. “We’ve got another very difficult game.

“Atletico are a top opponent and they showed that in the Super Cup; the match was very even.

“We’re expecting it to be even more difficult (on Thursday) because they’re at home and they’re doing very well there.”

Atleti have won nine and drawn one of their 10 home games in LaLiga this season and are unbeaten at the Metropolitano Stadium since a 1-0 league defeat to Barcelona in January 2023.

Real’s last visit there ended in a 3-1 LaLiga defeat in September, while Atleti refused to give their city rivals a traditional guard of honour after Los Blancos had sealed the league title with four games remaining in 2022.

Whether Simeone’s side afford Real the honour after their Spanish Super Cup success remains to be seen and Ancelotti commented: “I respect the decisions of every club.

“I think it’s perfectly fine whether they do it or not. I don’t attach much importance to this.”

Ancelotti has no new injury worries, but is still without Lucas Vazquez (thigh), while Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba and Eder Militao are working their way back from serious knee injuries.

“The whole team is available apart from Lucas Vazquez and the three with cruciate injuries. I’m going to put the best possible team out. If the team recovers well, everyone is available,” Ancelotti added.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries and we’ve stuck it out because the squad is very strong. There is a great deal of competition in training sessions and they’re very intense. This allows us to be in good physical condition.”

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