Real excited to bring European competition back to Bernabeu


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - LaLiga - Real Madrid v Villarreal - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - September 25, 2021 Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti REUTERS/Juan Medina/File photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid are itching to enjoy European competition back at their Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Tuesday, after more than 18 months away, manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday.

"We can't wait to play in this competition again at the Bernabeu; it's something that really spurs us on, and we have great memories," Ancelotti told a news conference ahead of the Group D game against Champions League debutants Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova.

It will be the first European game at the Bernabeu since Manchester City's 2-1 victory in the round of 16 in February 2020.

Real played all of last season at the smaller Alfredo di Stefano Stadium at their training ground as the Bernabeu underwent refurbishment, returning to their home for LaLiga matches earlier this month.

Ancelotti batted away comparisons between his current squad and the Real Madrid of former manager Zinedine Zidane.

"It's difficult to compare to be honest, the players change, the squad is different and I wouldn't want to compare this squad to the one Zidane had," Ancelotti said.

Zidane was Ancelotti's number two during the Italian's first spell at the club when they lifted the 2014 Champions League crown and he went on to manage Real during two spells after Ancelotti left in 2015.

The Frenchman resigned in May after disagreements with club president Florentino Perez.

Zidane won three consecutive Champions Leagues with Real between 2016 and 2018 and, along with Bob Paisley and Ancelotti, is one of just three coaches to have lifted the European Cup three times.

"Hopefully I can win three Champions Leagues in a row like Zizou did, or even one more," said Ancelotti, who also won the trophy twice with AC Milan.

The Italian said his side would respect Sheriff, who top Group D on goal difference after stunning Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 in their opening match.

"Sheriff are doing well, and watch out -- they might not be known but they're well organised and quick up top. We'll need to be fully focused in order to get the three points," said Ancelotti whose side beat Inter Milan 1-0 at the San Siro with an 89th-minute goal from Rodrygo.

Ancelotti will be without Dani Carvajal, Gareth Bale, Dani Ceballos and Ferland Mendy on Tuesday but will be boosted by the return to the squad of Toni Kroos, who has yet to feature this season following a hip injury.

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; editing by Clare Fallon)

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