Cristiano to start against Atleti

Real Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo will start the Copa del Rey game against Atletico Madrid.

Speaking at his pre-match Press conference, Ancelotti defended Ronaldo and claimed he should not have been sent off against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

“Ronaldo will start tomorrow. His red card was a harsh decision,” Ancelotti told reporters.

“Cristiano gets provoked a lot and receives many tackles in every game,” the Italian added.

Ronaldo was dismissed for an incident with Carlos Gurpegi in the second-half.

Ancelotti went on to reveal further details about his starting XI for the derby game.

“[Fabio] Coentrao and [Alvaro] Arbeloa will both play tomorrow.

“[Gareth] Bale is available to play. He trained well. [Raphael] Varane is fine. If he doesn't play tomorrow, he will play on Saturday.”

Jese started against Athletic in the absence of Bale but was withdrawn towards the end of the game, a tactical decision rather than an injury, according to Ancelotti.

“I subbed off Jese the other day because he was tired and we needed to defend,” he confirmed.

Ancelotti also reiterated his happiness with Madrid’s form and in particular, the 4-3-3 formation he has employed of late.

“We play 4-3-3 because it provides us with more balance and our stats back that up.

“[Angel] Di María is playing well and is comfortable in his new position. He loves to play there.

“[Luka] Modric is fantastic. His current position allows him to move with the ball quickly and this is why he is playing well now.

“I think we are playing well and are confident at the moment. We are balanced but we could still improve. I'm happy with the team.”

The magnitude of the match between Atleti and Madrid is not lost on Ancelotti but he doesn’t feel everything rests on the first meeting of the two-legged fixture.

“This is a tie. It's won in two matches. We have to do our best as always.

“Every derby or Clasico is the most important game for the club and the fans.

“Tomorrow a different Real Madrid will play to the team that played Atletico in the League.

“We will play differently to the way we did last time we faced Atletico.

“We will have the support of our fans tomorrow which is always important. We have to try to keep a clean-sheet and win the game.”

Tags Ancelotti Cristiano Ronaldo