Ancelotti not worried about Bellingham's absence against Leipzig in Champions League

Mon, Feb 12, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Ancelotti not worried about Bellingham's absence against Leipzig in Champions League

LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) - Carlo Ancelotti thinks Real Madrid has already proven it can cope without the injured Jude Bellingham, who is set to miss Tuesday's Champions League match against Leipzig in the round of 16.

Madrid will play the first-leg match in Germany with a depleted midfield because of the absence of the injured England international, who sprained his left ankle in a Spanish league match this past weekend.

Madrid had not given a timetable for Bellingham's return but Ancelotti confirmed Monday he will miss the game.

"We have won all four matches that we played without Bellingham," Ancelotti said. "He is an important player, but it's an opportunity for the others to be motivated."

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Brahim Diaz is expected to play in Bellingham's place, alongside Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga in the midfield. Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo are set to play in attack.

"Despite the absence of Bellingham, they have a strong attack, and we cannot focus on just one player," Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi said. "We know about Madrid's individual quality. Vinicius Junior played a fantastic game at the weekend, there is also Rodrygo, we can name everyone. In the center of the field, they have a lot of quality."

Bellingham scored twice in Madrid's 4-0 win against Girona to take his season tally to 20 goals, but left the game at halftime because of the ankle injury.

Ancelotti remains without some of its central defenders as well because of injury, including David Alaba, Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger. Midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni is likely to be deployed in the middle of the defense along with Nacho Fernandez. Another option would be to play right back Dani Carvajal in the position.

Spanish media said the team's bus was involved in a minor traffic accident in Germany on Monday. It said Madrid had to travel to Leipzig by bus from another German city because of a strike at the Leipzig airport.

The victory over Girona gave Madrid a five-point lead over the Catalan club at the top of the Spanish league standings.

Madrid has won four of its last five league matches, with the only setback a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid when it conceded a stoppage-time equalizer.

Kroos also spoke on Monday, saying he isn't sure yet if he will play for Germany at the European Championship at home this summer.

"I'm thinking about it," he said. "There is a chance, but we will see what happens."

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer

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