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Real full of confidence in Champions League after reaching quarters

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MADRID: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said his team were full of confidence after reaching the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.

The record 14-time champions of Europe beat Liverpool 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, 6-2 on aggregate, to progress to the last eight.

Real are aiming to win the Champions League for the sixth time in 10 seasons and Ancelotti believes his team’s remarkable run to glory last season has given them a lot of confidence.

Los Blancos pulled off stunning comebacks against Paris St-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, before beating Liverpool in the final.

Even in the last 16 first-leg clash with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, Real fell two goals behind before roaring to a 5-2 win.

“We have a lot more confidence, because of what happened last year, it gave us a lot of confidence,” Ancelotti told reporters.

“We saw that in this tie, against a strong team, we did well in the two games.

“But later, with confidence alone, we don’t reach the semi-finals. We have to play surprising football … as always, the Champions League is very complicated and we have to compete until the end.”

The coach hailed the blend of youth and experience in his squad, with veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and youngster Eduardo Camavinga, playing well together against Liverpool.

Camavinga eye for a forward pass and ability on the ball meant he could step forward into attacking areas, with Kroos sitting deeper to cover for him.

“Camavinga graduates and looks set for the Clasico XI,” ran a headline in Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo on Thursday.

Occasionally used at left-back this season by Ancelotti, a position in which he has delivered but is not his favoured spot, Camavinga will feel vindicated by his midfield display.

“He is in a very good moment, and he is taking advantage of it,” said Ancelotti. “He feels good playing with Kroos and Modric, manages the position well, and when Kroos sits deeper he has the chance to go forward more.”

NAPLES: Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (L) heads to score against Eintracht Frankfurt during their Champions League round-of-16 second leg at the Diego Maradona Stadium.—AFP
NAPLES: Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (L) heads to score against Eintracht Frankfurt during their Champions League round-of-16 second leg at the Diego Maradona Stadium.—AFP


“The atmosphere is created by the players — the intelligence, humility and patience of the veterans,” said Ancelotti.

“The key is the humility of the veterans, they don’t have egos, and the patience of the youngsters because in front of them are players who have had fantastic careers and still are.

“Modric and Kroos aren’t playing because of the careers they have had, they are playing because they deserve it.”

Klopp praised Real’s mentality in big European games.

“They are used to handling it in the best way, and we will have to see if they can do it again this year,” said the Liverpool coach.

“Unfortunately we will have to watch these big games from a distance.

Liverpool have been eliminated from the League Cup and FA Cup and are sixth in the Premier League on 42 points after a 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth on Saturday.

“Our job is to squeeze absolutely everything from this season as possible,” Klopp said.


In the night’s other round-of-16 second leg, Victor Osimhen made sure Napoli reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in their history with a brace in Wednesday’s 3-0 stroll past Eintracht Frankfurt.

Nigeria striker Osimhen struck either side of half-time to ensure no slip-ups in Naples and help Napoli secure a straightforward, and deserved, 5-0 aggregate win.

Piotr Zielinski added Napoli’s third from the penalty spot on a perfect night for southern Italy’s biggest club.

Luciano Spalletti’s side are close to securing their first Serie A title in over three decades and an already remarkable season got even better with a place in Friday’s draw for the last eight of Europe’s top club competition.

Eintracht were without suspended France forward Randal Kolo Muani following his sending off in the first leg and the Bundesliga outfit did very little to trouble Napoli.

Oliver Glasner’s side head out of the competition on a night in which their fans were involved in serious disorder after travelling to Naples despite no tickets for away fans being put on sale.

Italian police arrested eight people overnight after fighting broke out among fans, the Naples police chief said.

Five of those held were Napoli supporters and the other three were visiting fans from Germany, Alessandro Giuliano said during a news conference.

The Italian authorities banned fans living in Frankfurt from attending the stadium for the match amid concerns about possible violence, but a group of the German club’s supporters made the trip to Italy anyway.

Footage showed supporters clashing with anti-riot forces and a police car in flames, with objects being tossed towards the police while overturned tables and chairs lay smashed on the ground.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2023

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