The return of defensive midfielder Casemiro should help Real Madrid be more compact against Manchester City in their Champions League semi-final second leg on Wednesday, coach Carlo Ancelotti says.
The Brazilian missed last week’s 4-3 first-leg loss in England but is set to start in the Spanish capital, with Nacho again due to deputise for injured centre back David Alaba.
“Casemiro’s return will help us, it reinforces the defensive aspect in which we have to improve, and also in our collective commitment, moving better as a team, being more compact,” Ancelotti told a news conference on Tuesday.
“We have worked on the defensive aspect. I think we are going to see improvement.”
Nacho came on for the stricken Alaba in Manchester last week.
“Alaba is an important player, but Nacho has done very well too, he has experience and I’m sure he will do well tomorrow,” Ancelotti added, pinpointing City’s Phil Foden as a player to be watched.
“He’s fantastic, very young. He’s going to have a great career. He’s very dangerous, one of the best talents England has at the moment.”
Real’s Vinicius Junior also shone in the first leg and Ancelotti predicts quality will be the deciding factor in the match.
“He’s much cooler, calmer, he takes his time to decide what’s right. He has matured,” the Italian coach said.
“Winning tomorrow is not just a matter of the heart or the boost that the Bernabeu will surely give us, as always.”
Just days after Real wrapped up the LaLiga title, midfielder Luka Modric is in no doubt about the magnitude of the City second leg.
“The atmosphere in the dressing room is very good. We’re looking forward to it. We know what we have to do, this is the most important game of the season. We have to play our best game,” he said.
“We are very confident about fighting back. We know we didn’t play our best game in the first leg, but we still scored three goals.
“Tomorrow we have to do better, and I’m sure we will. We have quality, a lot of character … and the history of this club.”
The 36-year-old Croatia international has lifted the trophy four times with Real, who are record overall champions with 13 titles. City, runners-up last term, have yet to win Europe’s top prize.