Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said “being afraid is not a bad feeling” ahead of Sunday’s LaLiga clash at rivals Barcelona.
Ancelotti is preparing his side to play Barcelona in the first ‘El Clasico’ in LaLiga with supporters since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 99,000 fans expected to pack out Barca’s Camp Nou stadium.
“If you are not afraid you will face a lion thinking that it is a cat. That’s not the way to do it. We need to be ready and aware of who we are facing. Being afraid is not a bad thing. Fear can cause a positive effect in a team,” Ancelotti told a news conference on Saturday.
This will be the first LaLiga meeting between Barca and Real since Lionel Messi left the Catalan club to join Paris St Germain in August. Ancelotti, however, said excitement levels are still bubbling ahead of the match, even though the fixture will not be graced by the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Real in 2018.
“I experienced a Clasico with Messi and Ronaldo and I can guarantee that I feel the same as before,” said Ancelotti, who enjoyed a previous spell in charge of Real from 2013-15. “The clubs are bigger than the players that play for them. Real Madrid and Barcelona existed before Cristiano and Messi and Sergio Ramos and will still be here after we are gone. “This is a special game and will always be because of the history of these clubs.”
Real have won their last three encounters against Barca, who have not got one over their rivals since 2019. Ancelotti, however, has not previously tasted victory at Camp Nou in his career. “Feels like a good time to do it for the first time, don’t you think?” a smirking Ancelotti asked reporters. The Italian will have Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal back from injury but he was keeping tight-lipped about whether they would start. “They are ready to contribute and tomorrow we’ll see how,” he said.
Photo Real Madrid’s head coach Carlo Ancelotti (C) reacts during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid held at Mestalla stadium in Valencia, eastern Spain, 19 September 2021. EPA-EFE/Kai Forsterling