Pepe relishing prospect of battle with Tevez

Reuters , Monday 4 May 2015

Real Madrid defender Pepe (Photo: Reuters)

Real Madrid defender Pepe said he was relishing the prospect of a battle against Juventus forward Carlos Tevez when the sides meet in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final.

Tevez has been revitalised since his move to Juventus two years ago and the battle between the feisty Argentine and the notoriously volatile Portugal defender promises to be one of the highlights of the first leg.

"Tevez is a top quality player, who likes to fight for the ball and battles a lot on pitch, and I enjoy it when it's like that," Pepe told reporters on Monday.

Vilified for his red card against Germany at the World Cup, Pepe has yet to be sent off this season, which critics say is a sign that the 32-year-old has mellowed and matured under the leadership of coach Carlo Ancelotti.

"It's a privilege to learn from Carlo Ancelotti every day. He knows exactly what the players need," said Pepe who smiled his way through the press conference.

"He teaches you a lot both as a player and as a person."

Ancelotti promised that his team would come to attack and said he had no regrets about his unhappy two year spell at Juventus.

"The important thing is try to play as well as possible, using and showing the quality we have," he said.

"This team can show our quality by attacking, we will prepare to play on the attack in this game...but we have to defend better than we have recently.

"It's a good moment for us. We had a few problems in January and February, when we were a bit down, but the team is confident and we have replaced the injured players really well," he added.

"I coached here for two years and got on very well with part of the fans and the club. I learned a lot but I had a problem with some fans, but what can I say? The years I spent here have helped me to improve as a coach."

He played down the absence of forward Karim Benzema who has not recovered sufficiently from a knee injury.

"The difficulty is when you don't have good movement, with and without the ball.... the movement of the team, rhythm of the team, that is what makes the difference."

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