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Real Madrid ‘in better shape than ever’, says boss Carlo Ancelotti

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Mar 2024

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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.”

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