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Ancelotti cool over Enrique's return

Carlo Ancelotti has played down the controversy over former Real Madrid star Luis Enrique's return to the Bernabeu as Celta Vigo coach.

Enrique spent five seasons at Madrid before joining Barcelona in 1996, undergoing a secret medical at the Camp Nou while still a Blancos player. He then made no secret of his dislike for his former club and goaded Bernabeu supporters when scoring on a return in 1997-98.

Much of the Madrid media's build-up to Monday's game has centred on the former midfielder's first return to the Bernabeu as a coach.

Saturday's Marca headlined a full-page story "Enemigo [enemy] Blanco", while a video of the 2003 clash between him and Zinedine Zidane, now assistant coach at the Bernabeu, was featured prominently on the AS website.

But Ancelotti, asked at his pre-game press conference about the atmosphere Enrique could expect, said: "I know Luis Enrique’s story, but it will be a match between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo. There is no problem."

He said he was more concerned about Madrid continuing the winning form with which they finished 2013, explaining: "In the last two months we played well, and tomorrow I hope to see that same attitude and concentration. The players have come back in good condition, the team is doing well and I think we can play well tomorrow."

Madrid have named a strong 20-man squad, with Gareth Bale included despite having missed last week’s exhibition game against PSG in Qatar due to lingering concerns over a calf problem.

"He is in the squad, but I still do not know if he will play," Ancelotti said. "He trained this week and has no problems, but we might wait a bit longer before he plays."

Should Bale not start, Ancelotti may decide to reward young attacker Jese Rodriguez, who scored Madrid’s winner in their 3-2 victory at Valencia in late December, with a starting spot.

He said: "I have not spoken [to Jese] about starting. With Cristiano Ronaldo and [Karim] Benzema in the squad, it is hard to say that he will start. He is doing well and is showing that he is important to the team. He may play tomorrow."

Raphael Varane misses out again as he continues to recover from a knee problem. Fabio Coentrao is also absent amid rumours he might leave this month.


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