Ancelotti to ring changes in Copa
Carlo Ancelotti is set to give the young players another chance in Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey last-32 second leg against third-tier Olimpic de Xativa on Wednesday at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
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Ancelotti gave out his planned lineup for the game at Tuesday’s pre-game news conference, confirming that tyros Jese Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata and Casemiro would start along with the slightly more experienced Isco, Nacho Fernandez, Asier Illarramendi and Dani Carvajal.
This youthful team struggled to create much during the first leg at the third tier club’s home ground, against a defence which has since taken its run of consecutive clean sheets to nine.
The Blancos boss said they would need to be fully up for the return game if they were to ensure progress to the last 16, and avoid an embarrassment such as Madrid's famous early exit from the competition to Alcorcon in 2009-10.
"I know very well what an Alcorconazo is," Ancelotti said. "I do not need to talk about that. We need to continue in the competition -- which is very important for us. In the first game at Xativa we found a good team, they defended really well and they will try and do the same tomorrow. Our motivation must be the maximum, we have to play at a high tempo to be able to win this game."
Ancelotti also said that Angel Di Maria is set to start on the wing, with Gareth Bale having picked up a slight knock in training this week and Cristiano Ronaldo serving the second game of the suspension picked up for his sending off in last season’s Copa final defeat to Atletico.
The Italian coach said he had no issues with the Argentine winger, who was criticised in the Madrid media last weekend for an apparent lack of commitment against Osasuna due to his wish to leave for Monaco in January.
"Di Maria will play tomorrow because Bale got a bang on his calf in training, but although he should be okay to play on Sunday," Ancelotti said. "I have not seen any change [in Di Maria’s attitude]. He is training well, he is happy, gets on well with his teammates. When he came into the game, it was not easy, a difficult game, with one man less. I have full confidence in him."
Ancelotti said that Sergio Ramos had a slight back problem, but would be fine to play at Valencia next Sunday should an appeal against his sending off in Pamplona last weekend be successful.
"Ramos has a small issue in his back, he had the problem in the warm-up and made an effort to play against Osasuna," he said. "But if he cannot play in Valencia it will not be for a physical problem."