Ancelotti hoping for buoyant Bernabeu
Carlo Ancelotti says a return to Champions League action should lift everyone around Real Madrid ahead of Wednesday's quarterfinal first leg at home to Borussia Dortmund.
Consecutive Liga defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla have seen a previously buoyant mood around Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu turn sour, with fans even whistling star attacker Cristiano Ronaldo during last weekend's 5-0 La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano.
AS reports the Italian coach told his prematch news conference that he and his players had already moved on from these recent set-backs, and he believed the mood inside the ground on Wednesday evening would be positive.
"Last Saturday's whistles have already been forgotten," Ancelotti said. "Everyone is excited and motivated -- not just the players and the club, but all 'madridismo'.
"I believe there will a very good atmosphere at the Bernabeu tomorrow, and the fans will help us."
Dortmund's well-publicised injury worries mean they are likely to only field four of the starters from last season's semifinal second leg.
However, Ancelotti has also fitness issues to deal with, including a knee problem for Cristiano Ronaldo which has seen the forward playing through the pain in recent games.
"[Ronaldo’s] knee is fine," Ancelotti continued. "He also had a small cut but that is okay. He is relaxed and motivated."
Madrid have announced that regular left-back Marcelo has picked up a hamstring tear in training, meaning Fabio Coentrao is likely to play both legs against Dortmund, plus the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona on April 16.
Ancelotti said that he had plenty of options to cover at left-back, but 100 million euro galactico Gareth Bale [who played there earlier in his career for Southampton and Tottenham] was not one of them.
"We can cover [Marcelo's] absence with Coentrao," Ancelotti said. "He is fresh, he is fine. Bale will play further forward.
"We have many options -- Nacho and [Raphael] Varane can also play as full-backs. Ramos too. Bale as a full-back is not an option."
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has defended the club’s world record signing Gareth Bale from criticism in the Spanish press in recent days, yet he has admitted the Welshman has lacked consistency in his first season with the Spanish giants.
Bale came under fire for his less-than-convincing displays in the recent defeats against Barcelona and Sevilla, but Ancelotti has insisted he has no concerns over the 86-million-pound man.
"I think it is true he is a little intermittent, but that is a characteristic of all forwards and especially very quick players," said Ancelotti.
"Players with that speed can't have a continuous influence like other players with different characteristics like Xabi Alonso. His inconsistency is a physical characteristic of the player, like Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema. It is not an attitude problem."
Madrid and Dortmund met four times last season, with the Bundesliga side getting the better of things in the group stages and then winning the semifinal first leg 4-1 at home, before hanging on at the Bernabeu to progress 4-3 on aggregate.
Ancelotti hailed BVB coach Jurgen Klopp’s tactical ability, but pointed out his side were more "balanced" this year.
"I have watched [last year’s] games, they were strange," he said. "In the first leg the game was controlled well but in the second half what happened was incredible.
"It was a surprise, but that can happen in the Champions League. Klopp is a fantastic coach, who prepares his teams very well tactically.
"Balance is an important component for this game because they are very dangerous on the break. We will play an attacking game, but being careful of their counters."