Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has likened his team to “diesel” and is confident the La Liga giants will put behind a slow start as they prepare to face Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
With the rise of Diego Simeone’s Atletico, the two Madrid clubs are competing for silverware in a way that has rarely happened in the past.
Real got the better of the La Liga winners in the Champions League final but Atletico came out on top in the Spanish Super Cup at the start of this season.
Although it is still very early in the La Liga campaign, Real now need to bounce back after they lost to Real Sociedad in their second game.
“The team is working hard and one thing for sure is that the team is a diesel,” Ancelotti told Il Giornale newspaper.
“My confidence lies on two pillars: I have a group of professionals that are very concentrated and Cristiano (Ronaldo) scores a goal a game.”
In the Italian’s first year in charge, he took time in finding the right formation but the decision to drop Angel Di Maria into a three-man midfield completed the jigsaw and from there Real went on to finish well and win their 10th European crown.
Now they are having to start again having lost Di Maria to Manchester United and Xabi Alonso to Bayern Munich while new recruit James Rodriguez is taking his time to adapt.
On top of this Sami Khedira will be absent for over a month with a knee injury.
“I will find the right solution for Madrid,” said Ancelotti.
“All the signings and transfers have been given the green light from the coach.”
Atletico defender Juanfran says Real still have a formidable side but believes that they can come out on top with their usual spirit and battling mentality.
“We will go into the game with the idea of winning but we won’t have an excess of confidence. The derbies have been fairly equal recently and we have managed to break a (negative) run. The Real fans now look at us differently,” Juanfran told a news conference.
“Real have an incredible team and while some leave others come in. Their president says that they sign the best and that is possible for very few.
They cannot complain about the team they have.
“We are a very strong team and we will use our strengths and make the most of them. We will not change our way of playing. Some teams play one way and others another. The Atletico fans are delighted with ours and it doesn’t matter what other people say.”
Barcelona have made a strong start under new coach Luis Enrique and are the only side with a 100 percent record as they prepare to face Athletic Bilbao.
“The arrival of Luis Enrique has been very good for us, we needed a change,” fullback Jordi Alba told reporters.
“He has plenty of character as he showed before as a player and now as a coach. When his appointment was made I was looking forward to working with him as he is someone that I can identify with.
“Hopefully we will now have a good campaign, we have reinforced well and there is a positive mood in the squad.”