Carlo Ancelotti admits he will 'think about' new approach for Liverpool clash

Dani Carvajal, player of Real Madrid, is training with his teammates ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 match against Liverpool FC at Anfield on February 20, 2023 in Liverpool, England.

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid know exactly what to expect when they face Liverpool – and is confident Reds nemesis Vinicius Jr will not be affected by the ongoing racism storm in Spain.

The Spanish giants are at Anfield on Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Jurgen Klopp’s side.

It is a rematch of last season’s final, which Real won 1-0. The La Liga outfit also defeated Liverpool in the quarter-finals in 2021 and the final in 2018, while Ancelotti led them to home and away successes in the group stage back in 2014/15.

And the former Everton boss said: “I don’t think Liverpool have ever changed their quality (from last season). We expect a tense game, we will be under pressure a lot, a game where you don’t have time to breathe and we know very well what to expect and we are well prepared for that.

“I’m worried more about Madrid. I want Madrid to worry Liverpool, not the other way around. We want them to be worrying about us, not us to be overworrying about them.

“It’s nice to be back on Merseyside, I have a good memory of the period here. There was a pandemic in that period but it was very good time and it is good to be back in a fantastic stadium with a fantastic atmosphere and we hope to do our best.”

Ancelotti will be without key midfielders Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos for the match, and admits he has yet to decide how best to approach the game in their absence.

“That’s the doubt – whether we want to control the game or have a team that is more offensive,” he said. “Whether we go a bit more attacking. I have to think about it.”

While Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp earlier admitted it was “torture” watching last season’s final back, Ancelotti said: “I have good memories of the final. I think it was an even game, I share the same opinion of Klopp; they had more possession but we were solid at the back and being solid at the back against Liverpool is important.

“It is a different game now because this one is not a one-off, it is two legs. We need to perform well in 180 minutes, not just 90.”

Vinicius Jr scored the winner in Paris, and also netted twice in the 3-1 quarter-final first leg win over Liverpool in Madrid two years ago.

The Brazilian international has been subject to an increasing amount of racist abuse from opposing fans in Spain. And Ancelotti has called on the authorities to take action. “I hope they are working on this the people that have to be involved in this,” said the Real Madrid boss on Monday evening. “Vini is managing really well, he is focused on the game and loves to play football and this doesn’t affect him on the pitch.

“Vinicius loves playing football wherever. When games are important we see the best of him and it is obviously going to be a big game tomorrow. At the moment it is wonderful to be watching Vinicius not just for football as every fan likes his quality. They like to see Pedro, Gavi, Mbappe – Vinicius is up there with these players and we can enjoy quality players like that.

“I think racism is a really serious topic, there is no law that can change the behaviour of an individual person. You can only change people through culture, a common purpose and feeling of humanity. Don’t blame Spain for this, it happened in every country. The respect people have for one another is more important.”

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