Ancelotti has doubts on defense for Real Madrid's return game against Leipzig in Champions League

Tue, Mar 5, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Ancelotti has doubts on defense for Real Madrid's return game against Leipzig in Champions League

MADRID (AP) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti still has doubts about how to set up his defense for the return match against Leipzig in the round of 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Madrid will enter the game at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Germany three weeks ago.

Ancelotti didn't say whether he will improvise again with midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni playing as a central defender or would promote Nacho Fernandez to the position.

Tchouameni has been one of the players who has pitched in defensively because of injuries to the team's regular defenders.

"I've thought about it but I don't want to give away any hints, I still have some doubts," Ancelotti said Tuesday. "We played with Tchouameni and (Antonio) Rudiger because Nacho hadn't practiced, he had a small ailment. Now he is available and has the same opportunity to start as the others."

Madrid chose not to add any central defenders in the winter transfer window, with Ancelotti saying that the players he had were enough despite the many injuries affecting the club.

Nacho is a defender but isn't a usual starter for Ancelotti. The coach also had to use right back Dani Carvajal as a central defender.

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Madrid defender Eder Militao has been out since the season opener because of a serious knee injury and David Alaba tore his ACL in December. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois also has been out since before the season started with a knee ligament injury.

Leipzig's attack is led by Los Openda, a Belgium international who has scored 21 goals - including four in the Champions League - this season.

Madrid is coming off a 2-2 draw at Valencia in the Spanish league. It has a seven-point lead over Girona in the competition.

"Tomorrow we have to show the best version of ourselves," Ancelotti said. "The tie is not over yet. Talking about the season today is complicated. So far we have done very well but we still have a long way to go."

Madrid has advanced past the round of 16 the last three seasons, reaching at least the semifinals every time and winning the title in 2022.

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TALES AZZONI Azzoni is a sports reporter based in Madrid in charge of Spain and Portugal for The Associated Press. He has covered multiple World Cups and Olympic Games for the AP, as well as other major sporting events worldwide. twitter mailto "
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