International

Patience key to Real revival

2015-01-15 09:02
Carlo Ancelotti (AFP)

Madrid - Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has called on his players to approach Thursday's Copa del Rey last-16, second leg tie against Atletico Madrid with a cool head if they are to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit.

Since downing Atletico in the Champions League final in May, the European champions haven't been able to beat Diego Simeone's men in four attempts so far this season, but the Italian urged his side not to go for broke early on with the threat of an away goal making their task almost impossible.

"We know how to play against Atletico because we know each other very well. We need to be intense, but we also need to have a cool head because we have 90 minutes to do it," he said on Wednesday.

"We don't need to rush, we can't lose our confidence and need to play with intensity. Atletico is a team that defends very well. They are the best team in Europe to defend a lead because they are very well organised."

Ancelotti confirmed he had all of his squad bar long-term injury absentee Luka Modric available, including Cristiano Ronaldo who picked up the third Ballon d'Or of his career in Zurich earlier in the week.

However, the former Chelsea manager insisted that the Portuguese's continual thirst for more will ensure he is in contention to win the prize again this time next year.

"I think individual awards motivate him. I don't think he will relax having won the Ballon d'Or. Tomorrow he will start working again to win it for a fourth time."

Ronaldo beat four-time winner Lionel Messi into second place for the second consecutive year and Ancelotti responded to speculation surrounding the Argentine's future by claiming he would love to partner him and Ronaldo, although he acknowledged it is highly unlikely Messi would ever swap the Camp Nou for the Santiago Bernabeu.

"You have to think that Cristiano is the flagship player of Real Madrid and Messi of Barcelona. Each one has their own history, it would be a great thing for us to have the two in the same team but it is difficult to think they are going to move."

Ancelotti also backed Gareth Bale after he was whistled by large parts of the Bernabeu faithful for failing to pass to Ronaldo when squandering a simple chance in Saturday's 3-0 win over Espanyol.

"It seemed to me very difficult to pass the ball at that time so I didn't need to speak with Gareth.

"He is playing very well. I think he is in optimal physical condition. Tomorrow he will have a great game."

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