Carlo Ancelotti says he is happy to give Real Madrid’s kids a chance to shine in Saturday evening’s Copa del Rey last 32 game at minnows Olimpic de Xativa.
Madrid youth products Jese Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata, Casemiro and Nacho Fernandez are all set to start the game at the Valencian Segunda B side. Regular first-teamers Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Daniel Carvajal are also likely to feature, while Cristiano Ronaldo is suspended and Xabi Alonso rested.
The Blancos coach told his pregame news conference that it was not always easy for the emerging talents to start games due to the competition for places at Madrid, but he had full faith in their ability to perform for the senior team.
“[The youngsters] will have a chance tomorrow to play,” Ancelotti said. “I do not have to show them anything, I have a lot of confidence in all of them. It is true that they have not played so much this season, but you must remember that Jese and Morata are competing with Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
"Casemiro has Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric and Illarramendi. It is not so easy to give them minutes, and they understand that very well. They also know I have faith in them, and their quality.”
Ancelotti said there was no chance of Morata taking up a reported offer to join Arsenal on loan in January, although a spell away from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to gain experience next season was a possibility.
“Morata is an important player for this season, and he will stay here,” he said. “At the end of the season if he is not comfortable in this position, we will think about sending him on loan.”
Club captain Iker Casillas should play on Saturday as Ancelotti continues to rotate his goalkeepers between league and cup competitions, with Diego Lopez on the bench.
Not making the journey are the suspended Ronaldo, although he has returned to full training following some time off to recover from various bumps and bruises, and Alonso, who is staying in Madrid as Xativa’s artificial pitch is not ideal for a player who has previously had groin issues.
Ancelotti said he was hopeful of the Basque midfielder signing an extension to his current Madrid contract [which ends next June] however his main focus was on keeping the club’s current winning run going.
“Alonso’s contract is important for everyone, for the club, for the team, but it is not a priority -- the priority is to continue up to Christmas playing well and winning,” he said. “We are waiting for Xabi’s decision, he is thinking about what to do for his future. He is relaxed about it, I have spoken with him and the club has spoken with him. I believe he will decide very soon what he is going to do.”
The Italian coach said he did not think that Friday evening’s World Cup draw, when Madrid’s internationals from Spain, France, Croatia, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil and Germany will learn their group opponents in next summer’s finals, would be a distraction from their current club duties.
“Players are not thinking about the World Cup, although they are interested in the draw,” Ancelotti said. “To prepare well for the World Cup they must play a good season [with clubs]. So I do not think they are thinking about next summer, they are focused on the competitions here. The Copa is an important competition for the club, for everyone.”
Ancelotti also said that Ronaldo would return for next Tuesday’s Champions League game, when already qualified Madrid play at the group’s bottom side Copenhagen [who retain a chance of making the Europa League].
“Ronaldo is fine, he is training, and is going to play on Tuesday, without any problem,” he said.