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Thursday, 29 July 2021

Real Madrid to field strongest team at Basel, Ancelotti says

Reuters, Tuesday 25 Nov 2014
Real Madrid
Real Madrid's coach Carlo Ancelotti (Photo: Reuters)

 Holders Real Madrid will field their strongest team at FC Basel in Wednesday's Champions League Group B clash despite having already qualified for the last 16, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday.

Real, who have a maximum 12 points from four matches, need only to avoid a defeat of four goals or more to secure top spot, while a win for Basel will send the Swiss side through if Liverpool fail to beat Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets.

Basel have six points and English Premier League club Liverpool and Ludogorets each have three.

"It's true that we have already qualified but we need to play well and win to finish first in the group," Ancelotti told a news conference previewing Wednesday's game at Basel's St Jakob Park stadium.

"And that's what we'll do, playing the best possible match with the best possible team," added the Italian, who led Real to a record-extending 10th European crown in his first season in charge in 2013-14.

Real have been on rampant form in recent weeks, led by top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, and will be chasing a 15th straight win in all competitions on Wednesday.

They have scored 56 goals and conceded only nine since their last defeat, September's 2-1 La Liga reverse at home to city rivals Atletico Madrid, whom they beat in the final of Europe's elite club competition last term.

Ancelotti, whose side are two points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga after 12 matches, said he was confident talks with the club on a contract extension beyond June 2016 would be concluded successfully.

"There is nothing new," he told reporters when asked about the situation.

"We have not talked about it recently because I don't think we need to," added the 55-year-old, a Champions League winner with AC Milan as both player and coach.

"We are playing a lot of matches and we are very focused on the games.

"Neither I or the club are in a rush as we will sort it out when we have time."

Basel lost 5-1 at the Bernabeu but coach Paulo Sousa said his side could win the return if they did not get caught on the counter-attack.

"With our recent improvements, I believe a positive result is possible," he told reporters. "Madrid made the most of our mistakes in the first leg but if we play with character, then anything is possible."

"I don't think it's an advantage that Real have qualified. They showed that against Galatasaray last season."

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