Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said his side won’t take Tuesday’s Champions League clash at RB Leipzig lightly despite having already qualified for the last 16 as they want to clinch the top spot.
The Italian confirmed Karim Benzema and Luka Modric did not travel to Germany with the pair suffering from muscle fatigue. But he insisted that Real must not underestimate their rivals, who are still fighting for a place in the knockout rounds.
The European champions lead Group F on 10 points, four ahead of second-placed Leipzig and five in front of Shakhtar Donetsk. The Spaniards only need a draw to clinch first place.
”The objective on Tuesday is to play a good game so we can forget about the group stage for good,” Ancelotti told a news conference on Monday. ”The goal is to finish first and on Tuesday we have that opportunity.
”It’s not time yet to rest players. Why would I rest Vinicius? He is not tired!”
Ancelotti rejected the idea that some players could already be distracted with the World Cup less than a month away. He stressed that there is still a lot to play for in the next three weeks and his players are focused on their club duties.
”I don’t think the players are thinking about the World Cup,” Ancelotti said. ”On the contrary, they know that it must be the opposite, they must seek to arrive at the tournament with momentum from their club form.
”But I would understand if some did. We are resting some of them because it is better to lose Benzema for one day than for a month.”
Federico Valverde will also miss the Leipzig match as a precaution after a suffering a muscle knock on his right leg.
Ancelotti added that Real are being careful with key players at a time when they can afford to do so.
”Injuries are part of football. ’If you don’t want to injure yourself, stay on the couch’ is a phrase that I always use,” he said.
”Nobody has told me ’I don’t want to train because I’m afraid’. If they did, I would tell them to stay home because there are many good movies and series on TV…”
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