Football: Ancelotti may seek to rotate tired team for Celtic clash

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said the goal is to be first and be leaders in the league before the World Cup. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID – Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has said that his squad are feeling fatigued and he may rotate his starting XI for the Champions League home clash against Celtic on Wednesday.

Although the Spanish and European champions have already qualified for the last 16 from Group F, top spot is still very much up for grabs following their surprise 3-2 loss to RB Leipzig on Oct 25.

Real are top on 10 points, one ahead of Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk (six) are third and Celtic are bottom with just two points.

“We are not at the level of last week. We have had problems this week – injured players, players who have not trained much and the loss of (Aurelien) Tchouameni.

“We are playing a lot of games, the team is tired. It is a time of difficulty.

“On Wednesday, we have a chance to be first in the group. The goal before the (World Cup) break is to be first and be leaders in the league.”

Real will be aiming for a win to seal top spot, as a draw may not be enough should Leipzig beat Shakhtar.

Ancelotti’s men will also be hoping to bounce back from Sunday’s 1-1 La Liga draw with Girona.

The draw put them just a point ahead of Barcelona in the Spanish top flight.

Real will be without Ballon D’or winner Karim Benzema as the Frenchman continues to recover from his muscle issue.

Callum McGregor will remain on the sidelines for Celtic following a knee injury.

In Group H, Paris Saint-Germain are also battling for top spot when they travel to Juventus.

The French side are level on 11 points with Benfica, while Juve and Maccabi Haifa have three points each.

PSG, who are on a 28-game unbeaten run in all competitions, will need to better or just match Benfica’s result at Maccabi to be group winners.

They have history on their side, as they have won each of their last four final group-stage matches in the Champions League – scoring at least four goals each time.

PSG also beat Juve 2-1 earlier this campaign but they have never defeated the Italians at their home ground, and Juve have won each of their last three home matches.

“With the offensive quality that we have, we cannot, and must not, give the opportunity to the opponent to hope. We must prohibit it,” said coach Christophe Galtier.

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