Carlo Ancelotti wary of Atletico style
ESPN FC: Real hosts perfect Atletico
Carlo Ancelotti has called on his Real Madrid's players to use their greater quality to overcome Atletico Madrid's more physical style in Saturday evening's derby clash at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
• Hunter: Referee fallout and analysing Madrid's Dark Knights
• Train: Real escapes Elche courtesy of Ronaldo, referee
Madrid go into the game still looking a work in progress under new coach Ancelotti, in third place in the early Primera Division table, and with new world-record signing Gareth Bale struggling for full fitness.
In contrast Atletico are flying, with six wins from their first six league games, and the extra confidence of having won last season's Copa del Rey final meeting between the sides at the Bernabeu.
Ancelotti admitted to reporters before training on Friday afternoon that he was impressed with how Diego Simeone's side performed as a team.
"Atletico play aggressively, they are all together, that is a good quality of theirs," he said. "They are a strong team and use the weapons they have. As a team they have the characteristics of Simeone as a player. He was tactically perfect, very focused, with a lot of character. That is Simeone, that is Atletico Madrid."
But man for man Madrid's players were technically better, Ancelotti maintained. "But these are two teams with different qualities -- they are more aggressive and have more physicality," he said.
"Real Madrid have more quality. We need to play quickly tomorrow to make chances. If you play slowly it is difficult to make chances against them. The key is to have confidence, not to be worried, and to play at your best. The most important thing for this kind of game is courage and personality."
Ancelotti repeated the comment made after Wednesday's last-gasp 2-1 win at Elche that his side would have to improve a lot on that performance to beat in-form Atletico.
"It is true that we played badly against Elche," he said. "We have spoken about the game, that is normal when things do not go well. The players and all of us have understood the reasons. We made mistakes in the game. Tomorrow, because of this [talk], we will have a different spirit."
The Italian said he did not fear that Saturday's referee -- Antonio Mateu Lahoz -- would be under any extra pressure after the deluge of criticism aimed at official Cesar Muniz Fernandez for gifting Madrid a last minute penalty on Wednesday night.
"I do not think the referee will have a problem because of what happened in Elche," Ancelotti said. "I prefer to think that the referees, like the players, make errors on the pitch. Coaches make mistakes too, lots of them. And nothing more. I am not here to judge if it was a penalty or not. Or if in Barcelona against Sevilla it was a foul or not. This is football, and with bad luck, sometimes, there are mistakes."
Ancelotti would not be drawn on whether Bale would be brought back into the team, after the €100 million man missed Madrid's last two games with a slight thigh injury, and Angel Di Maria performed well in his absence.
"With Bale we are going to see after today's training," he said. "I believe he will be available. Then we will have to make a decision, think about the game."
The former Chelsea boss did confirm that Marcelo was still not fit enough to feature, so the likelihood is that Dani Carvajal will return at right-back, with Alvaro Arbeloa moving to the left of the defence and Fabio Coentrao dropping back down to the bench.