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Monday 18 December 2017

Ancelotti to spring Chicharito from bench in derby

Real Madrid striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez will make his Bernabeu debut in this evening's La Liga derby clash with Atletico Madrid, but according to coach Carlo Ancelotti, the Mexican is likely to be sprung from the bench rather than start the game.

Hernandez, who recently signed for Real in a season-long loan deal from Manchester United, is competing with Real's France forward Karim Benzema for a place in the starting line-up.

"We are very happy with Chicharito," Ancelotti said in reference to Hernandez's nickname. "He won't play from the beginning but he will be of use during the game." Another of Real's new signings, James Rodriguez, has so far failed to reproduce the scintillating form that won him the golden boot award at the 2014 World Cup with six goals.

Ancelotti said it was normal for a player to need time to settle in at a new club and Rodriguez, who joined the European champions from Monaco, was no different.

"It's clear that a new player needs time to adapt," Ancelotti said. "I am pleased with what he has done so far. It's normal that he might have the odd problem at the start."

Meanwhile, World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in this evening's clash.

Portugal forward Ronaldo was struggling with a knee injury at the end of last season and picked up a hamstring strain last month. He has not played since he scored in a 2-0 La Liga win against Cordoba on August 25 and missed Real's 4-2 defeat at Real Sociedad in their last outing.

"He is on top form," Ancelotti said ahead of the repeat of this year's Champions League final, which Real won 4-1.

"He has been training very well these past three weeks and he does not have any problems," added the Italian.

"He is in optimal condition. He doesn't have a chronic injury. Last season he had one injury and now another. It's nothing chronic."

This evening's game is a rematch of the season-opening Spanish Super Cup and a chance for Real to avenge their 2-1 aggregate defeat to their city rivals, the current La Liga champions.

Real's arch rivals Barcelona are the only team to have won both their opening games and host Athletic Bilbao on this afternoon.

REAL MADRID v ATLETICO MADRID, LIVE tonight SKY SPORTS 5 (KO 7.0)

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