Friday 19 January 2018

Ancelotti: 'We are not obsessing about beating Atletico'

Real Madrid's coach Carlo Ancelotti attends a news conference at Valdebebas sports grounds in Madrid, April 13, 2015
Real Madrid's coach Carlo Ancelotti attends a news conference at Valdebebas sports grounds in Madrid, April 13, 2015

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti concedes Tuesday's Champions League opponents Atletico Madrid have been a genuine pest for his team this season, but not their "bete noire".

The sides have met six times since Real's Champions League final triumph over Atletico last May, and the latter have exacted revenge.

Atletico swept aside their city rivals in their two La Liga showdowns, eliminated them from the Copa del Rey and beat them in the Spanish Super Cup.

"Atletico is a great rival but are not our 'bete noire'," Ancelotti said to the Spanish media. "It's an opponent that fights from the first minute until the last."

READ MORE: Bale is all clear for Atletico face-off

Atletico have shown the past few seasons the same combative style and temperament that their coach, Diego Simeone, displayed when he was a player for Argentina and his club sides.

The teams have also been tactically sound.

"To come up against Simeone is an honour and a problem," Ancelotti said. "I expect a very level tie.

"We have a 50 per cent chance to go through.

"Two draws could be enough to go through, which is why we are not obsessing about beating Atletico.

"We are dreaming of winning the 11th European title."

Atletico beat both Real and Barcelona to the Spanish title last season and were just minutes away from lifting the Champions League trophy in Lisbon when a late goal from Real's Sergio Ramos took the game to extra time.

Ancelotti's team then prevailed 4-1.

"Each game has its own history and Lisbon is in the past," Atletico midfielder Joao Miranda said. "We want to write our own history.

"We are playing at home and we will seek victory."

Atletico edged Bayer Leverkusen, 3-2, on penalties to progress to this round and another date with Real.

Simeone's side has won all four of its home matches in this season's Champions League while Los Blancos are travelling to the Vicente Calderon stadium having prevailed in each of their away games.

Real saw their 10-match winning run in the competition end in a surprise 4-3 home defeat to Schalke in the previous round.

Gareth Bale did not feature in Real's 3-0 win over Eibar on Saturday, a result that allowed them to close the gap on Primera Division leaders Barcelona to two points.

The Welshman is expected to start on Tuesday, though.

"The group is well and I have the fortune of having all of my players available for selection, including (Gareth) Bale, who is 100 per cent," Ancelotti said.

Atletico, who drew 2-2 at Malaga at the weekend, are third in the standings, seven points adrift of Real.

The Rojiblancos will be bolstered by the return of Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic.

Mandzukic missed his team's last two games with a recurring ankle problem but is fit.

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