MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid want to quickly forget about Kylian Mbappé and focus on the Champions League final against Liverpool again.
Four days before the final in the Parisian suburbs, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti and his players did their best to avoid talking about the French striker and his decision to stay with Paris Saint-Germain.
They also played down the apparent call for revenge from Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, who was on the losing side when the two sides met in the 2018 final in Kyiv.
Mbappé made the shocking announcement about his future on Saturday, dealing a blow to Madrid and their fans, who were certain he would play in the Spanish capital next season.
“It’s very clear to us that we have to think about our own things,” Ancelotti said on Tuesday. “We never talked about players from other teams. We respect everyone, every decision, every club. We have to do our own job. It’s very clear and obvious what we have to think about is ie prepare us for the final.
Madrid as a club had not commented on Mbappé’s decision, although some players were quick to post messages praising the club and saying it was an honor to wear his shirt.
Veteran defender Marcelo says there is no conversation about Mbappé in the dressing room.
“It wasn’t a surprise because we’re not talking about players from other teams,” said Marcelo, one of the Madrid players with a chance of winning a fifth Champions League title. “It’s indifferent. It would be something else if he had been signed by Madrid, but because he was not a Madrid player there is no reason to talk about what happened.
Karim Benzema, Mbappé’s France team-mate, said there was nothing more important than Saturday’s game.
“We are playing a Champions League final on Saturday,” he told MarcaTV. “Now is not the time to talk about those other little things.”
Mbappé said last year that he wanted to join Madrid, but PSG turned down offers of nearly 200 million euros ($214 million) for the player. The French striker was expected to complete his transfer to Madrid after becoming a free agent at the end of this season, but opted to sign a three-year deal with PSG instead.
“I have never talked about players who don’t play for Real Madrid, and I will never talk about players who don’t play for Real Madrid,” Ancelotti said.
Mbappé’s decision to reject Madrid has been the most discussed topic in Spain in recent days, leaving aside the Champions League final.
Madrid will look to win a record 14th European title on Saturday at the Stade de France in their fifth Champions League final in eight seasons. He has won 13 of the 17 European finals he has played in the continent’s top club competition.
The last title, against Liverpool, came after Salah was unable to complete the match due to a shoulder injury after being severely fouled by then-captain Sergio Ramos. Salah said after this season’s semi-finals that “we have a score to settle” with Madrid.
“Apparently he has a problem with us,” said Madrid defender Éder Militão, one of the players who will try to stop the Egyptian on Saturday.
Ancelotti said Salah’s comments could also serve as additional motivation for Madrid, much like the 1981 final the club lost to Liverpool in Paris.
“We can have the same motivation as Salah,” Ancelotti said. “We respect him, he’s a great player. Maybe it’s revenge for them, but it can also be revenge for us because of 1981.”
Madrid won their 10th European Cup eight years ago with Ancelotti as manager, then won three consecutive titles from 2016 to 2018 with Zinedine Zidane at the helm.
“There was a lot more pressure back then (in 2014). It’s been several years since Madrid won the Champions League. It was almost an obsession for everyone,” Ancelotti said. “Now Madrid fans are motivated, but not so obsessed with it, and I think that can give us an advantage.”
Ancelotti, who can become the first manager to win four Champions League titles, will have Madrid in full force on Saturday.
“To be honest, the starting line-up isn’t really a problem,” Ancelotti said. “It’s not a game for just 11 players. And those who came on the bench have done well to help us so far. Everything has gone well for us so far. »
Madrid reached the final after comebacks against PSG in the round of 16, Chelsea in the quarter-finals and Manchester City in the semi-finals.
“I hope this time it’s Liverpool trying to rally against us,” Ancelotti said. “It will be an entertaining, very balanced final.”
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