Ancelotti unhappy to face Atletico in trio of Madrid derbies

 
Carlo Ancelotti head coach of Real Madrid prior the LaLiga EA Sports match between Real Madrid CF and RCD Mallorca at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 3, 2024 in Madrid, Spain.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said yesterday he was unhappy to be pitted against fierce city rivals Atletico Madrid three times in under a month.

Los Blancos take on Diego Simeone’s Atletico today in Riyadh in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final, again next week in the Copa del Rey last 16, and also in La Liga in early February.


Atletico are the only team to beat Real Madrid this season in all competitions, with the Rojiblancos earning a 3-1 league win in September in the derby at their Metropolitano stadium.

“The calendar is what it is, we have to face Atletico Madrid again, we have to play this game,” Ancelotti told a news conference.
“I don’t like facing Atletico because they are one of the best teams, it’s always tough to play them — but Atletico will be thinking the same thing.


“We are two strong teams and it will be complicated, but I think the fans will enjoy these fixtures, both Real Madrid and Atletico fans.”

Ancelotti said Atletico’s victory over Madrid this season damaged his side, although they have since gone on a 19-match unbeaten run.
“The truth is the last game we played (against Atletico) did us a lot of damage,” continued Ancelotti.

“I think tomorrow we can put a better version of ourselves out there than in our first match against Atletico Madrid.”

Atletico had won just one of their previous 14 La Liga matches against Real Madrid before this season’s victory.

Real Madrid also beat Atletico in the 2020 Spanish Super Cup final, the first to be played in Saudi Arabia.

Madrid midfielder Fede Valverde was dismissed for hacking down Atletico striker Alvaro Morata as he ran through on goal deep in extra-time, allowing his team to get to penalties, where they triumphed.

“I’d do it (again), if it’s for the team,” Valverde told reporters.

“If we’re losing 3-0 then there’s no sense in it, in that final we were battling it out, it was hard-fought... if that was the scoreline again, I’d do it again.”

‘Worn down mentally’

Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodrigo de Paul said he was happy to face off with Los Blancos in the derby triple-header despite the toll it takes on the players.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing the best teams, and Madrid are one of them,” said De Paul.

“Obviously this fixture leads to being worn down mentally and physically a lot, but (Madrid derbies) always have their negatives and positives — I’ll appreciate being able to face one of the best teams.”

Simeone said Atletico’s triumph over Madrid in September had no bearing on the clash at the Al-Awwal stadium.

“Madrid had some players who couldn’t play, and they will be there tomorrow ... that was another game, in another moment,” said Simeone.

“We will prepare to play this one in the way we think is apt for this moment.”

Key Madrid forward Vinicius Junior was out injured for the defeat by Atletico but has returned from another thigh problem in recent weeks and is poised to start today.

Spanish Super Cup holders Barcelona face Osasuna tomorrow in the other semi-final clash. 

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