Carlo Ancelotti said he will pick a strong Real Madrid team this weekend hoping to celebrate a LaLiga title win, despite facing a Champions League semifinal second leg with Manchester City just four days later.
Madrid’s 15-point lead over Barcelona and Sevilla at the top of the league table means they need one more point from their remaining league games — starting when they play Espanyol at the Bernabeu on Saturday (10.15 a.m. ET live on ESPN+) — to clinch the title.
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They then host City on Wednesday May 4, needing to turn around this week’s 4-3 first leg deficit to reach the Champions League final.
« We would like to finish [the league] tomorrow, » Ancelotti said in a news conference on Friday, when asked about the difficulties of balancing the two competitions. « If we have to celebrate, we will celebrate like everybody does. We haven’t organized anything yet. »
Ancelotti said he would « pick a team to win the game » and would not send out a reserve side against Espanyol, even knowing that Madrid have subsequent matches against Atletico Madrid, Levante, Cadiz and Real Betis to take the point they need.
« The trophy is so close, » he said. « We’ve fought and worked hard to get to this point. I don’t think it’s a moment for relaxation… We have a match point. When the great tennis players have a match point, they win it. »
Ancelotti faces a selection headache in defense against Espanyol, with David Alaba injured against City, and fellow centre-backs Eder Militao and Nacho both suspended.
« We have some defensive problems, » he said. « I will have to pick [Jesus] Vallejo, who has not played much but has always been a serious professional, and another centre-back, which could be Casemiro.
« In midfield I have a lot of options, fresh players like [Eduardo] Camavinga and Dani Ceballos. Upfront, [Marco] Asensio has done well all season. We will evaluate if Karim [Benzema] can start the game. »
Benzema scored twice against City on Tuesday to take his tally for the season to 14 Champions League goals and 41 in all competitions.