Carlo Ancelotti insists his Real Madrid side will go on the attack against Liverpool despite having a three-goal lead from the first leg… as the 14-time winners aim to book their place in the Champions League quarter-finals
Carlo Ancelotti has vowed to fight fire with fire and warned Liverpool that Real Madrid are aiming to reach the Champions League quarter-finals with more goals.
Few outside of Anfield give Liverpool any kind of chance of overturning the remarkable 5-2 first leg defeat they suffered three weeks ago on Merseyside. Madrid have bossed Liverpool in recent years and they are expected to march into the last eight.
None of this, however, will stop Jurgen Klopp’s men from dreaming. This Madrid team is not immune to losing heavily at the Bernabeu – Ajax beat them 4-1 in the quarter-finals here in 2019 – and Liverpool, unpredictable as they are, certainly have the potential to do damage.
Ancelotti, who expects Karim Benzema to be ready to lead his line after receiving treatment on an ankle issue, knows that Liverpool will come out swinging tomorrow night, as they did last month, but Real Madrid’s head coach wants to see his team throw punches of their own.
‘The message is quite simple: not to assume and play the best way we can to try to present a match like we did in the first leg,’ said Ancelotti. ‘My idea is not to make assumptions. We will try from minute one to play with utmost intensity and try to win the match.
Carlo Ancelotti wants his side to take the game to Liverpool in Wednesday’s second leg
Real Madrid dominated the first leg, but Ancelotti doesn’t want his side to sit back in the return match
‘We have an advantage but we will think about the match being open: we want to attack and play our best offensive football. There is no assumption, that is quite clear, and the players understand that I think it will be an open match.
‘Liverpool will come here trying to change the dynamic. We have to do both things, attacking and defending, properly. We will not just defend, we are thinking about the attack. From a psychological level the match is more complex for us than Liverpool.
‘Liverpool come here to give it their all and do their best from minute one, whatever happens. We saw that from the first leg. We will try to do all we can from the beginning but we have more questions than the opponent.’
Madrid found themselves in a similar situation last season against Chelsea, having won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge but were on the cusp of throwing it all away. Chelsea led 3-0 in the 80th minute but Ancelotti’s men sneaked through with a dramatic comeback.
Asked about his memories of watching his team throw away that big lead and then salvage it in injury time he said: ‘The Chelsea game last year was tough. My role is to not show that I’m feeling a lot of pressure but there are moments when you suffer a lot. [That match] will help us to play a different game this time.’
There is reason for Ancelotti to expect his side to score goals and that is down to the outstanding form of Vinicius Junior. The Brazilian will lead Real’s charge but one man who won’t be close to the action is Eden Hazard – he has a strained relationship with the Italian.
‘The relationship is not a cold one,’ Ancelotti argued. ‘It is hard to assess things. I don’t talk to him a lot because talking is about where you are, that you feel better with some people than other people.
Vinicius Jr looks set to play a key role after scoring twice in the first leg at Anfield
‘It is the same with your kids, you feel more confident talking with one than the other. What is important is if he doesn’t talk a lot and doesn’t play a lot he is respecting me and I respect him. Hazard is not playing because there is a lot of competition and in this position.
‘We have a player who is contributing a lot and that is Vinicius. He is on his way to writing history at this club in the same way Benzema, Modric, Casemiro have done in recent years.’
Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger echoed the sentiments of his coach and said the team had learned from a poor start to the first leg.
Rudiger said: ‘We can’t sleep through the first 15 minutes as we did at Anfield. And we can’t just defend the three-goal lead, we have to please our fans.’