Eder Militao could return for the first time in seven months as Real Madrid look to tighten their grip on the LaLiga title race against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

The Brazilian picked up a cruciate ligament injury on the opening day of the season against the same club, but has been named in the matchday squad by head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

However Ancelotti warned not to expect too much of the centre-back, saying: “He’s available, he’s trained well, but obviously he’s not 100 per cent fit because he hasn’t played football.

“Militao is a very important player who helps us in many areas of the game. I wouldn’t rule him out completely. If we don’t go with Militao, either Nacho or (Aurelien) Tchouameni will play.”

Ancelotti will also have keeper Thibaut Courtois available after a long-term knee injury, but star striker Vinicius Junior is absent after picking up a one-game ban for his fifth booking of the season in last week’s win over Osasuna.

Jude Bellingham is also likely to return for the league leaders after missing the last two games following his red card against Valencia, as well as a minor ankle injury.

Real go into the game against their fourth-placed opponents on the back of two straight wins and Ancelotti added: “We’re feeling confident but we have to bear in mind that we’re playing against a team that’s having a great season.

“We’re feeling good and we have all the confidence in the world to perform well.”

Meanwhile, Ancelotti went on to dismiss renewed speculation that star midfielder Luka Modric could be leaving the Bernabeu at the end of the current season.

The 38-year-old’s contract runs out at the end of the current campaign, but Ancelotti insisted: “Everyone is talking about next season except us.

“Luka is focused and what we want to do is finish the season strongly and compete until the end. We’ll deal with the future of the players when the season is over. Nobody is interested in talking about his future now.”

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has undergone surgery on a meniscus tear in his right knee and is set for another spell of rehabilitation.

The 31-year-old Belgium international had already missed most of Real’s campaign so far after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his left knee last August.

Courtois only recently returned to first-team training and it had been hoped he could soon be available again as Carlo Ancelotti’s side challenge for the LaLiga title and Champions League success.

Real Madrid confirmed in a statement on Wednesday: “Our player Thibaut Courtois underwent successful surgery today for a tear to the internal meniscus of his right knee, under the supervision of the Real Madrid Medical Services.

“Courtois will start his recovery program in the next few days.”

It remains to be seen how long his latest injury setback will leave Courtois sidelined again.

Courtois had already been ruled out of Belgium’s upcoming friendlies against Republic of Ireland and England in the international break.

He also now looks likely not to be in contention for both legs of next month’s Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City.

Given Courtois’ absence, Ukrainian stopper Andriy Lunin has established himself in goal for Real this season.

Ancelotti’s side are eight points clear of fierce rivals and reigning Spanish champions Barcelona with nine games remaining.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is set for more time on the sidelines after suffering a meniscus tear in his right knee.

The 31-year-old Belgium stopper has already missed most of Real’s campaign so far as they challenge for the LaLiga title and the Champions League after enduring an anterior cruciate ligament injury last August.

Courtois now looks set for an extended lay-off, reported to be in the region of six weeks, ruling him out of Belgium’s friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and England across the next seven days and possibly both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City.

A statement published on realmadrid.com on Tuesday afternoon read: “After the tests carried out today on Thibaut Courtois, he has been diagnosed with a torn internal meniscus in his right knee. The injury occurred during today’s training session.”

In Courtois’ absence, Andriy Lunin has established himself between the sticks for league leaders Real this season. Carlo Ancelotti’s side are eight points clear of fierce rivals and reigning Spanish champions Barcelona with nine games remaining.

What the papers say

Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling will give Saudi Arabian clubs the cold shoulder this summer, the Evening Standard reports, with the 29-year-old England international – who was booed  by Blues fans at the weekend – set on helping the Stamford Bridge club get their hands on silverware next season.

Borussia Dortmund would be keen to bring on-loan winger Jadon Sancho back to the club on a permanent basis, but only if Manchester United are willing to accept half the £73million they bought the England international for in 2021, the Mirror reports.

Chelsea striker Cole Palmer, 21, is to be rewarded with a new and improved contract after an impressive start to life at Stamford Bridge following his summer move from Manchester City, says Football Insider.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Joshua Kimmich: Bayern Munich are open to selling the Germany midfielder, however he is only interested in joining Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid or Barcelona, writes Florian Plettenberg.

Eddie Nketiah: Wolves are in the hunt to sign the England striker, 24, who may leave Arsenal in the summer, reports Teamtalk.

Eden Hazard has no regrets about how his dream move to Real Madrid unfolded as he enjoys life after football.

The Belgian forward joined the Spanish giants in 2019 after becoming one of the best players in the world at Chelsea but could not have the impact he hoped for.

Injuries and poor form restricted him to just 76 appearances in all competitions before leaving the club after four disappointing years last summer.

He decided to retire soon after, aged just 32, but will put his boots back on this summer after signing up to play for the World XI at Soccer Aid.

Hazard still looks back on his time at the Bernabeu with pride.

“It was my dream, I can tell you,” he said. “Even if the story was not that good, we all know injuries and this and that, but when you look back you can see some pictures of me wearing the Real Madrid shirt and it was something I am really proud of.”

Asked whether he could have carried on playing had things ended differently at Madrid, he replied: “That’s a good question, who knows? I think so, but my time playing football was over, I had a lot of injuries, so no regrets.”

Hazard’s involvement in Soccer Aid on June 9 will see an emotional return to Stamford Bridge, where he enjoyed a stellar seven years.

He won two Premier League titles, two Europa Leagues, an FA Cup and a League Cup and reflects on “pure happiness” during his stay in west London.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Eden Hazard (@hazardeden_10)

 

“I spent seven years, the best memories of my football career,” he said.

“I met great players, not just inside the team but also outside the club, it was seven years of pure happiness.

“When you leave you always feel a bit sad but this club is always in my head, so just good memories.”

Hazard, who has kept in shape because he doesn’t want to look like “Peppa Pig”, is enjoying life away from football.

He does not see a future in professional coaching or management, but would love to help his five children follow him into the game.

“I am enjoying it a lot, I miss being with the lads in the dressing room a bit but I have the freedom to do what I want now,” he told the PA news agency.

“I have kids, I have family, I can go to Belgium to see my mum and dad, so I can do a lot of things.

“I don’t know, now it is just good to be away, but I still love football, for sure I am going to do something in football in the future, but now I just want to relax and enjoy my retirement.

“I don’t think I will coach professionally, but I think I can coach for youth teams. I have kids, and I want to teach them how to play football.”

He will be managed by current Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino in the charity match, with the likes of Usain Bolt and Roberto Carlos joining him in the World XI.

“It’s going to be at Stamford Bridge with friends, so it is going to be a great night,” he said.

“So let’s have fun, score some goals and make the fans happy. They do amazing work, especially when you are a dad and you have kids and you see everything they do for kids.

“You want them to do more and that is why you want people to come to the game to have a good time at Stamford Bridge.”

:: Soccer Aid for Unicef 2024 takes place on June 9 at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, with tickets available at www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets.

Real Madrid have filed a further complaint with the Spanish authorities over alleged racist abuse directed at striker Vinicius Junior during their 4-2 LaLiga win at Osasuna on Saturday.

Real had already filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office last week after footage on social media that appeared to show Atletico Madrid fans chanting racial abuse prior to their Champions League clash with Inter Milan.

In a statement, Real said they have updated their initial complaint, as well as filing a separate protest to the Spanish Football Federation’s disciplinary committee over the conduct of referee Juan Martinez Munuera.

Real allege Munuera filed a “negligent” referee’s report, adding: “The official omitted, in voluntary and deliberate fashion, the insults and humiliating chants directed towards our player on a repeated basis, despite his attention being drawn to them continually by our players as they were happening.

“Real Madrid once again condemns these violent attacks of racism, discrimination and hate and demands that measures finally be taken in order to eradicate the violence to which our player Vinicius Junior has been subjected.”

Vinicius Junior scored twice to send Real Madrid 10 points clear at the top of La Liga with a 4-2 win over Osasuna.

The Brazil forward, who was this week subjected to more racist abuse from rival fans, leading to his club filing a complaint with the Spanish legal authorities, opened the scoring in the fourth minute but the league leaders were pegged back almost immediately by Ante Budimir.

Dani Carvajal restored Madrid’s lead in the 18th minute following some neat work inside the area by Federico Valverde and second-half goals from Brahim Diaz and Vinicius sealed the win before Iker Munoz’s late consolation for the hosts.

Second-placed Girona lost further ground on Madrid after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Getafe.

The Catalan side suffered a fourth defeat in six games after going down to Jesus Santiago’s first-half strike, the visitors missing a handful of chances in the second half.

Gorka Guruzeta scored twice in the first half as Athletic Bilbao ran out 2-0 winners over Alaves to move into the top four, while Granada’s survival hopes suffered another huge blow as they were defeated 1-0 by Mallorca

In Germany, Harry Kane broke another Bundesliga record and helped Bayern Munich come from behind to beat Darmstadt 5-2, but the England captain was unable to finish the match due to an ankle injury.

Bayern, who moved seven points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen ahead of their trip to Freiburg on Sunday, fell behind to a Tim Starke goal but Jamal Musiala levelled things up before Kane headed in his 31st goal of the campaign to become the first player to do so in a debut Bundesliga season.

Further goals from Musiala, Serge Gnabry and Mathys Tel secured the points but Kane limped off eight minutes from time after twisting an ankle in the goal netting, which could make him a doubt for England’s upcoming friendlies with Brazil and Belgium.

Stuttgart strengthened their chances of a Champions League place with a convincing 3-0 victory over Hoffenheim, Enzo Millet opening the scoring before Serhou Guirassy – with his his 24th of the season – and Jamie Lewelling finished things off.

Mainz beat fellow strugglers Bochum 2-0, Union Berlin defeated Werder Bremen 2-1, Augsburg continued their search for a European spot with a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg while Heidenheim drew 1-1 with Borussia Monchengladbach.

In Italy, Lazio came from behind to beat Frosinone 3-2 in the first game since Maurizio Sarri resigned as coach of the capital club.

Frosinone went ahead through Pol Lirola but Lazio, despite being second best for much of the half, equalised seven minutes before the break through Mattia Zaccagni.

Valentin Castellanos scored twice in the second half to put Lazio in charge and they held on despite Walid Cheddira pulling a goal back for the third-bottom hosts.

Goals from Duvan Zapata and Nikola Vlasic gave Torino a 2-0 win over Udinese while Salernitana slumped closer to relegation after Norbert Gyomber’s 18th-minute own goal saw Lecce claim a 1-0 victory.

Monza climbed into the top half of the table with a 1-0 win over Cagliari.

Nice leapfrogged Lens into fourth place in Ligue 1 with a 3-1 victory.

Terem Moffi struck twice, either side of a Khephren Thuram goal, to put Nice in control and Lens could only respond through Elye Wahi’s 76th-minute consolation.

Nantes still occupy the third and final relegation place after a 3-1 loss to Strasbourg left them with a fourth defeat in five games.

Vinicius Junior scored twice as LaLiga leaders Real Mardid won 4-2 at Osasuna.

The Brazil forward, who was this week subjected to more racist abuse from rival fans, leading to his club filing a complaint with the Spanish legal authorities, fired Real in front after just four minutes.

Although Osasuna hit back through Ante Budimir, a well-taken goal from Real captain Dani Carvajal had the hosts ahead at the break.

Brahim Diaz scored a third on the break just after the hour mark before Vinicius slotted in his second of the afternoon and Iker Munoz struck a late consolation for the visitors.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who were missing England midfielder Jude Bellingham through suspension, made a bright start.

Vinicius gave them an early lead when he took the ball off Osasuna defender Alejandro Catena and ran through to beat the goalkeeper in the fourth minute.

The Brazilian then saw another chance saved after he tried to round keeper Sergio Herrera and Osasuna hit back when Budimir scored from a corner.

Los Blancos, though, regained the lead in the 17th minute when Carvajal latched on to a chipped pass from Federico Valverde to hook the ball in with the outside of his boot.

Following such a frantic start there was a brief lull before Osasuna forward Jose Arnaiz fired another chance over and then Vinicius saw his effort fly just wide before Antonio Rudiger’s header was blocked.

As half-time approached Arnaiz’s curling shot from outside the box was saved by Real keeper Andriy Lunin at full stretch.

Vinicius needlessly picked up a yellow card for dissent when laughing at a decision from referee Martinez Munuera before the break, meaning he will be banned for the LaLiga game against Athletic Bilbao after the international break.

Real, who will face Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals, further extended their lead on the hour mark when Diaz raced on to a long kick up field from Lunin, which had been flicked on by Valverde.

Vinicius got his second goal soon after as Valverde turned provider again.

He chested the ball into the path of the Brazilian, who ran into the left side of box and slotted a low shot into far corner for a sixth goal in his past four appearances.

Rodrygo saw his late effort saved before Lucas Vazquez had a goal ruled out for offside.

In stoppage time, Munoz pulled another goal back for Osasuna and 19-year-old Turkish midfielder Arda Guler almost added a fifth for Real when his long-range chip from just past the halfway line dropped on to the crossbar.

Carlo Ancelotti says Real Madrid are in “better shape than ever” with a seven-point LaLiga lead and a Champions League tie against Manchester City to look forward to.

Real travel to mid-table Osasuna on Saturday afternoon knowing victory will take them 10 points clear ahead of second-placed Girona kicking off at Getafe.

“It’s a hugely important game that will demand the best of us, especially going into the international break,” Real boss Ancelotti said at a press conference ahead of taking charge of his 900th top-flight match in Europe’s top leagues.

“We want to finish this part of the season strongly. We’ve done pretty well so far and we’re heading into the break in a good position.

“I’m a pretty optimistic guy and we’re in better shape than ever. We have a lead in LaLiga and we’re in the Champions League quarter-finals, with (Eder) Militao and (Thibaut) Courtois on the way back.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t slip up, which we may.

“We have to be excited about the upcoming games. Right now, we should be happy, satisfied and hungry going into our next matches.”

Ancelotti confirmed Brazil defender Militao and Belgium goalkeeper Courtois have resumed training with the first-team group.

Courtois sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in training just before the season started, while Militao tore the ACL in his left knee in the opening game of the campaign.

The pair could return for the LaLiga game at home to Athletic Bilbao after the international break on March 31.

Real play Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at theBernabeu on April 9.

Ancelotti said: “We’ll take advantage of the break to give them some minutes in a couple of friendlies with the academy and I think they could be back in contention.

“Our plan is to have them ready for the game against Bilbao without taking any risks – and I think they’ll be there.”

Real were thrashed 4-0 by City at the Etihad Stadium last season in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final, losing 5-1 on aggregate.

But Ancelotti dismissed the idea of next month’s tie being a revenge mission, saying: “We want to beat opposition who are playing in the same competition as us.

“There’s no sense of revenge on our part. Each person has their own thought process.”

Osasuna have won three of their last five league games but were beaten 4-0 at the Bernabeu in October.

Head coach Jagoba Arrasate said: “If you give things away, they won’t forgive you.

“It is one of the keys and the other is for us to be brave and for them to see that they have a rival in front of them who wants to win too.”

La Liga will report the “deplorable racist chants” aimed at Vinicius Junior by Atletico Madrid fans to Spain’s legal authorities.

The Real Madrid forward was again the target for abuse by Atletico fans prior to their Champions League last-16 match against Inter Milan on Wednesday night.

The Brazil forward has called on UEFA, which runs the Champions League, to issue sanctions.

European football’s governing body is understood to be reviewing the official match report before making any decision on disciplinary action, but La Liga has acted already even though the match was not under its jurisdiction.

“La Liga will report the deplorable racist chants against Vinicius Jr before Wednesday’s UCL match between Atletico de Madrid and Inter Milan to the Hate Prosecutor’s Office, regardless of the fact that the match was played in another competition and that the chants took place outside the stadium,” a league statement read.

“La Liga is wholeheartedly committed to making football a hate-free space and will continue to work relentlessly to crack down on racism, homophobia, violence and hatred… whatever the competition.”

Vinicius replied to a post on X, formerly Twitter, about the chanting and wrote: “I hope you have already thought about their punishment @ChampionsLeague @UEFA.

“It’s a sad reality that even happens in games where I’m not present!”

Real Madrid moved seven points clear at the top of LaLiga after beating Celta Vigo 4-0 at the Bernabeu Stadium.

Vinicius Junior’s close-range finish gave Real a half-time lead and own goals from goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and Carlos Dominguez put Carlo Ancelotti’s side, without the suspended Jude Bellingham, in full control.

Turkey midfielder Arda Guler stepped off the bench to score his first goal for the club in stoppage time as Los Blancos extended their unbeaten league run to 22 matches.

Second-placed Girona had closed the gap to four points on Saturday by beating Osasuna 2-0 at home, but once Vinicius Junior opened the scoring in the 21st minute following a corner, Real dominated the match.

Eduardo Camavinga went close on three occasions to extending Real’s lead and Rodrygo forced Guaita into a reflex save before the break.

Celta had been limited to blocked shots from Manu Sanchez and Luca de la Torre, but they threatened through Jorgen Strand Larsen’s effort early in the second period.

Guaita saved again from Brahim Diaz and Federico Valverde flashed a shot wide before the Celta keeper denied both Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior.

Real were rewarded for their pressure with a second goal in the 79th minute when Antonio Rudiger’s header struck the crossbar and deflected in off Guaita.

Celta substitute Dominguez turned the ball past his own keeper in the closing stages and in the fourth minute of added time Guler, a late replacement for Vinicius Junior, steered home the fourth goal.

The Turkey international burst on to Dani Ceballos’ through-ball, knocked the ball around Guaita and buried his shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the six-yard box.

Real returned to winning ways after being held by Valencia and RB Leipzig in their previous two matches to stretch their advantage over Girona and open up an eight-point lead over third-placed Barcelona.

Real Madrid are continuing their fight against Jude Bellingham’s red card with boss Carlo Ancelotti calling his two-match ban “overzealous and inappropriate”.

The 20-year-old England midfielder was sent off against Valencia last weekend after he remonstrated with referee Jesus Gil Manzano, who blew for full-time seconds before Bellingham headed in what would have been a winner for Real.

Madrid saw an initial appeal against a two-match suspension rejected by the Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) competitions committee on Friday.

Bellingham has not been named in Madrid’s 20-man squad for Sunday’s LaLiga visit of Celta Vigo but the league leaders are not letting the issue lie and, according to reports, have launched an appeal with Spain’s sports administrative court TAD (Tribunal Administrativo del Deporte).

“We’ve appealed because we believe the sanction is overzealous and inappropriate,” Ancelotti said on the club’s official website on Saturday.

“He wasn’t insulting anyone, as is reflected in the report.

“They have looked at the way he approached the referee and I hope they haven’t singled him out because Bellingham protests in the same way as anyone else, in fact there are lots who do far worse.

“We think the sanction is not correct, and that’s why we have appealed.”

Ancelotti has also defended Vinicius Jr, who has attracted criticism for his recent performances.

“I’ve looked back at the statistics and I’ve never seen a player who has been so poorly treated,” the Italian said.

“He gets kicked, insulted, jeered… He scores goals and sets them up. I think everyone should rethink their attitudes towards Vini Jr.

“Never before has a player with that level of talent been so harshly treated. When something needs to be looked at, we don’t need to be making t-shirts.”

Despite being denied victory against Valencia, Madrid still hold a comfortable lead at the top of the table but Ancelotti admits his side, who have drawn three of their last four games in all competitions, have taken their “foot off the gas” in recent weeks.

“Following the Girona match, which was our best performance of the season, we’ve struggled and perhaps we’ve stepped our foot off the gas a bit,” he said.

“We have to think about where we haven’t been doing things so well, that’s how we’ll improve. We’re not concerned, we evaluate things in the most critical manner and we have to improve.

“We lacked intensity and a good attitude on Wednesday and tomorrow we have to make sure we get those things right.”

Celta make the trip to the Bernabeu lying 17th in the LaLiga standings but boosted by their 1-0 home win over Almeria last time out.

Real Madrid endured a nervy night against RB Leipzig before they booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 win on aggregate after a 1-1 second-leg draw.

Carlo Ancelotti’s team held a one-goal lead from the first game in Germany on February 13, but came close to exiting in the last-16 stage only for Lois Openda to miss several chances while Dani Olmo hit the crossbar in stoppage time.

It meant Vinicius Junior’s 65th-minute opener, after a superb assist by Jude Bellingham, proved decisive with Leipzig’s equaliser via Willi Orban not enough to earn Marco Rose’s men a famous European victory.

Bellingham started days after his red card at Valencia following the controversial decision by referee Jesus Gil Manzano to blow for full-time before his headed effort could count as a last-gasp winner.

Leipzig had created plenty of chances in the first leg and should have put the ball in the net with 10 minutes played when Benjamin Sesko was sent through, but Andriy Lunin made a simple save and the offside flag was raised.

Vinicius diverted an effort over the crossbar with his chest soon after, which proved a rare venture into the Germans’ half in a one-sided first 45 minutes.

Openda curled wide moments later before his golden chance arrived in the 16th minute, but he dragged wide after an excellent ball by Olmo.

The Bernabeu crowd were already restless and a blocked Bellingham effort failed to turn the tide, with Paris St Germain loanee Xavi Simons next to test Lunin.

Simons was involved again three minutes before the break when his corner picked out Openda, who brushed the side-netting with his wayward shot from inside the area.

Whistles followed at half-time and Ancelotti reacted with Rodrygo introduced, but the visitors continued to create chances with Openda able to round Lunin before his decision to cut back inside allowed the Madrid goalkeeper to dive at his feet.

Madrid frustration boiled over when Vinicius was booked for shoving Orban to the ground, but he almost created the opener on the hour mark with a great run only for Bellingham’s scuffed effort to hit Rodrygo before a Toni Kroos shot was parried away.

Ancelotti’s team had finally started to move up the gears and the breakthrough occurred with 65 minutes played.

Bellingham was at the heart of the move, carrying the ball half the length of the pitch before he found Vinicius, who made an excellent run and rifled into the corner.

Any chance that Leipzig would fold was dispelled when Antonio Rudiger deflected a shot from Simons wide, which sparked big celebrations with Bellingham.

It was the visitors celebrating with 22 minutes left though when David Raum’s cross was headed in by Leipzig captain Orban to set up a grandstand finish.

Rose urged his team to press forward for a decisive second and Olmo sent a shot wide before Orban headed another chance over.

Leipzig pushed for a final opportunity, which did arrive in stoppage time but Olmo’s side-footed effort hit the top of the crossbar and bounced over to ensure Madrid progressed.

Erling Haaland netted his 29th goal of the season as Manchester City eased into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-1 victory over Copenhagen as Real Madrid battled past RB Leipzig.

The Norway international found the net after early strikes from Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez at the Etihad Stadium to ease the holders to a 6-2 aggregate win.

Defender Akanji volleyed City into a fifth-minute lead from Alvarez’s corner and it was 2-0 within four minutes when, after Rodri’s header had come back of the crossbar, Copenhagen goalkeeper Kamil Grabara palmed Alvarez’s follow-up into his own net.

Mohamed Elyounoussi reduced the deficit with 29 minutes gone when he fed Orri Oskarsson and then ran on to his back-heeled return to fire past Ederson but Haaland restored the home side’s cushion in first-half stoppage time.

Willi Orban ensured Real Madrid suffered a nervous conclusion at the Bernabeu Stadium as they edged into the last eight after a 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg in Germany, the Spaniards had to wait until the 65th minute for Vinicius Junior to put them ahead on the night.

However, Orban levelled within three minutes and then went close with a header as the LaLiga leaders eventually made it through 2-1 on aggregate.

Real Mardid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has warned his players only their best will do against RB Leipzig as they look to secure a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Los Blancos will defend a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg in Germany when Brahim Diaz scored a fine solo goal.

Ancelotti’s side have been held to three frustrating draws in their last five domestic matches, with Jude Bellingham shown a red card after the game at Valencia ended 2-2 when he thought he had headed in a dramatic stoppage-time winner as the referee blew up for full-time.

The 14-time European champions may be favourites to get the job done against Leipzig at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night, but Ancelotti insists there can be no sense of entitlement.

“It’s a big opportunity to progress in a competition that is very special for us, but we will have to be at our best,” Ancelotti told a press conference.

“The tie is not over, even if we do have a small advantage. We have to be at our best from the first minute to the last.

“The first leg was difficult against Leipzig, even though we created a lot of chances.

“We have to improve on that and be more dangerous because it’s going to be a different game tomorrow.

“They will look to play more in transition than us. Dealing with that defensively is going to be very important.”

Ancelotti reported no fresh concerns from the weekend, with captain Nacho Fernandez in contention to return to the side having missed some training with a minor issue which saw him start on the bench at Valencia.

England midfielder Bellingham, making his own return from an ankle injury, was sent off after the players surrounded the referee in the wake of his disallowed goal, with Madrid having earlier fought back from 2-0 down.

Ancelotti, though, feels there is no need to add further fuel to the situation, with his side now seven points clear at the top of LaLiga.

“I have not spoken to Bellingham about this matter,” the Italian coach said.

“He is someone who tries to give everything on the pitch and he is doing very well.

“The red card the other day was a mistake. He was a bit frustrated, but he didn’t insult anyone.”

Leipzig head to Madrid on the back of a 4-1 win at Bochum which left them fifth in the Bundesliga.

Defender Mohamed Simakan is suspended for the second leg, while Lukas Klostermann is doubtful because of a hip problem.

Leipzig coach Marco Rose said: “We are going to travel to Madrid and try everything.

“We want to be the most difficult opponent possible for Madrid so that they really have to stretch.”

Page 2 of 158
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.