The 64-year-old manager of Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti, emphasised on Tuesday that his team never regards themselves as favourites to win the Champions League, despite their illustrious history in the competition.
He pointed out that bookmakers are favouring the defending champions, Manchester City.
Real Madrid, who secured their 14th European Cup victory in 2022 but were defeated by Manchester City in the semi-finals last season, are set to kick off their Group C campaign with a home match against Union Berlin on Wednesday.
In addition to Union Berlin, they will also face Napoli, the Serie A champions, and Braga from Portugal during the group stage.
“City are favourites because they have a squad that saw them win it last season and they haven’t changed much.
“However, in the Champions League, like always, there are surprises at the end,” Ancelotti told reporters ahead of facing Union at the Bernabeu.
“Real Madrid are a team that is going to fight until the end. We never think of ourselves as favourites, just as I think City don’t. They won it last year, they can win the Champions League.“
Real may be taking on Champions League debutants Union, but Ancelotti stressed they would not take the Germans lightly.
“They’re a new team in the Champions League but the fact they’re here means they’ve done very well. They’re well organised defensively, they’re solid and they play with intensity…,” he said.
“The Champions League is a special competition for us. We’re going to treat tomorrow’s game as something special. We want to get off to a good start in the group stage and we’re playing at home.”
The Italian added that Dani Carvajal (31) would be rested for Wednesday’s game, but said the right back would likely be available for their LaLiga clash at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
“Carvajal has a strain and we wanted to rest him to avoid problems,” Ancelotti said. “He feels good and we don’t think it’s anything serious, so hopefully he’ll be back soon.
“As things stand today, he has a chance of playing on Sunday. The player’s general condition is pretty good. Lucas Vazquez (32) will play in place of Carvajal (against the Union).”