Ancelotti contradicts Koeman: Clasico fear ‘good’


Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said fear is “a positive feeling” ahead of Sunday’s El Clasico (live on ESPN+ at 10.15 a.m.) at Camp Nou, contradicting the thoughts of Barcelona counterpart Ronald Koeman

The Barca boss had told a news conference earlier on Saturday that his team would play “without fear” in the LaLiga clash.

How to watch El Clasico on ESPN+
Stream Barcelona vs. Real Madrid on ESPN+: Oct. 24, 10.15 a.m. ET (U.S. only)

Madrid got their season back on track with a 5-0 away Champions League victory at Shakhtar Donetsk this week after three games without a win before the international break. Despite Barca’s on-and off-field turmoil so far this season — with Koeman coming close to the sack earlier this month — Madrid are just two points ahead of them going into the Clasico.

“Worry is normal, sometimes fear too,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Saturday. “They are positive feelings.

“If you aren’t scared, you face a lion thinking it’s a cat. Fear is a positive feeling. Confidence is necessary. In my opinion I have a strong team with players with a lot of quality, not just technically or physically, but mentally above all.”

“It’s something that happens to you before a game, sometimes before a training session, sometimes afterwards. It is quite constant. But it’s a good feeling, not a bad feeling. Fortunately I’m not terrified by a game ever… I think there are worse things in life than losing a game.”

Madrid started the season well, posting high-scoring wins against Alaves (4-1), Celta Vigo (5-2) and Mallorca (6-1).

That run was halted by a goalless draw with Villarreal, a humiliating Champions League defeat to Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol at the Bernabeu, and a 2-1 loss at newly-promoted Espanyol in their last league outing.

Ancelotti confirmed that Eden Hazard — whose injury record means he is yet to feature in a Clasico over two years after joining — and Dani Carvajal were both fit and available, while in-form Karim Benzema is also expected to start despite a midweek knock.

“Talking about who will play tomorrow wouldn’t be right, I haven’t told the players yet, but our idea is clear,” Ancelotti said. “The team is ready, we’ll have Carvajal and Hazard back.

“Hazard is fine, he has trained well, Carvajal too. But it’s difficult to put a player who has coming back from injury in from the start. The important thing for us is he could be useful at any moment.”

Ancelotti laughed when reminded of his record at Camp Nou, where he has never won with any team despite having played there with AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Madrid.

“I think it’s time to win a game at Camp Nou,” he said. “But they’re just three points. You have to fight for a lot of points, not just against Barcelona, if you want to win the league.”

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