Ancelotti

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with his team’s performance against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kyiv, particularly the three players in the middle of the park, with the Italian saying he could only tip his hat to them.

Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro bossed the game in the middle of the park and gave Los Blancos the platform to dominate and run riot.

“The three of them won everything and they still have that ambition and commitment,” said Ancelotti.

“You can only applaud them. You can’t say anything else.”

Another veteran who delivered a typically excellent performance was Karim Benzema, while the return of first-choice left-back Ferland Mendy was also a boost.

“Karim has more leadership now, like Modric, Casemiro and Kroos,” said Ancelotti.

“Now I like him a bit more than before.

“[Mendy’s] return is important for us, too. He played 65 good minutes.”

Real Madrid scored five goals against Shakhtar and Vinicus Junior played a big part in three of them, scoring two fine goals and setting up Rodrygo Goes to get on the scoresheet.

“[Vinicius] played well. It’s hard to pick out one player today, we were good from the get-go,” said Ancelotti.

“We knew about their danger on the counter. [The result] gives us confidence but Barcelona is a different game, another story.

“[Vinicius] has improved a lot. He’s getting goals and he’s getting more action in front of goal. He’s looking very fresh.”

Vinicius’ compatriot Rodrygo also had a good game and, while not usually a starter, could come into the coach’s thinking for El Clasico.

“[Rodrygo] did his job in the game,” said Ancelotti.

“I liked his work in defence and on the counter a lot.

“I don’t know if he’ll start against Barcelona but when you play like that it’s hard to change things.”

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