Carlo Ancelotti: Champions League campaign only a success if Real reach final

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Carlo Ancelotti is pleased to have proved doubters wrong but will not regard Real Madrid’s Champions League campaign a success unless they reach the final.

The 13-time European champions were not thought to be among the competition’s favourites at the start of the season.

They have since come through a group featuring Italian champions Inter Milan and seen off the much-fancied Paris St Germain and last year’s winners Chelsea to reach the last four.

With the Spanish giants also on the brink of regaining the LaLiga crown, they are in good shape as they face Manchester City for a place in next month’s Paris showpiece.

Real coach Ancelotti, who returned to the club for a second spell last summer after quitting Everton, said: “I remember what the press and public were saying. There are two teams in semi-finals that nobody thought could get here – Real Madrid and Villarreal.

“The favourites were PSG, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City.

“We are happy to be here and competing. I have always said Real Madrid would compete. We are going to compete and fight 100 per cent.

“But for Real Madrid it is not normally a success to reach the semi-finals. We feel it is a success to get to the final and that is the objective.”

Ancelotti was speaking at a press conference at the Etihad Stadium ahead of Tuesday’s first leg against City.

City manager Pep Guardiola has urged his side to disregard the reputation of Real and focus on the players on the field.

Ancelotti, however, does not necessarily believe Real’s historical standing and prestige does intimidate opponents. He feels it is more something that inspires their own players.

He said: “I think the history that Real Madrid have in this competition counts for a lot. This history, that has grown, in the last few years helps our players.

“To feel the weight of the shirt is a positive burden. It’s a positive responsibility to have that.”

Ancelotti revealed he was considering playing three forwards to exploit City’s potential defensive vulnerabilities.

The hosts are without Joao Cancelo through suspension while John Stones and Kyle Walker are injury doubts.

Ancelotti said: “I think it will go to the second game in the Bernabeu. We are going to think about the line-up and see how things work out. The debate I have to decide on is three strikers or two.”

Real have their own injury issues with David Alaba and Casemiro both due to be assessed.

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