Ancelotti banking on Real Madrid stars' motivation in Spanish Super Cup clasico

Manager believes his players can never win enough trophies ahead of Barcelona showdown in Riyadh

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Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti says, such are the demands at the club, that his players have to be as motivated as ever by success as they take on Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final on Sunday.

The European champions and reigning Super Cup holders face their arch-rivals in a high-profile showdown at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.

Madrid and Barcelona are currently battling it out at the top of La Liga – the Nou Camp club lead by three points - with Real the current domestic champions and Barca seeking a first title since former captain Xavi was appointed manager in November 2021.

On Saturday, Ancelotti told reporters at the final’s pre-match press conference: “We are talking about players that started winning in 2013 [five Uefa Champions League titles since then], have kept winning, and have never filled their stomachs and they never will fill them.

“We are at a very demanding club that doesn't allow you to think your stomach is full.”

On the Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia's capital, Ancelotti added: “All titles are important for this club. Titles give motivation, confidence. There's a lot at stake in this game. We fight each day for this, to get to a final.

“The team is motivated and comfortable too, because we are used to playing under this type of pressure. That's why we have a lot of confidence.”

In his second stint as Madrid manager, Ancelotti boasts a near-perfect record in finals throughout his trophy-laden career. The Italian has lost one of the past 10 – the 2014 Spanish Super Cup, when Madrid were defeated 2-1 on aggregate by neighbours Atletico.

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However, opposite number Xavi said on Saturday: “Statistics are there to be changed. It is a difficult game, but I want to think positively. I have to remember that I have had a lot of luck too in finals.

“We have to take stock of where we are; that we have Real Madrid in front of us is a huge motivation.”

With the Super Cup now a four-team event, Barcelona booked their place in the final by defeating Copa del Rey champions Real Betis on Thursday on penalties.

Madrid, meanwhile, needed spot-kicks also to come through their semi-final against Valencia, on Wednesday.

Asked about Sunday being a clasico and thus adding another layer of intrigue to a longstanding rivalry, Xavi said: “We have not won a trophy for a long time - we have to show that we want it, that is non-negotiable.

“Tomorrow is a great opportunity. We have to do everything we can to be able to win this final. We're especially excited for it, and with it being Madrid too, it would mean lot to Barcelona.”

Updated: January 14, 2023, 12:30 PM