Soccer-Ancelotti urges Real Madrid players to step up against Shakhtar


Soccer Football - Champions League - Real Madrid Press Conference - Ciudad Real Madrid, Madrid, Spain - October 4, 2022 Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti during a press conference REUTERS/Susana Vera

(Reuters) - Real Madrid will have to be at their best to beat a dangerous Shakhtar Donetsk, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday as he prepares his team for the Champions League Group F clash after a disappointing draw in LaLiga at the weekend.

Karim Benzema missed a late penalty on Sunday as Real dropped their first points of the season in the league after being held 1-1 at home by Osasuna who had been reduced to 10 men late on.

Ancelotti stressed to his players that they need to up their game at home on Wednesday against a Shakhtar side who are unbeaten in their two Champions League games so far, the second being a 4-1 thrashing of RB Leipzig.

The Ukrainian club are second in the group on four points, behind leaders Real on six.

"We want to improve and show another attitude, another identity considering that we are going to play against a dangerous team that started the group very well," Ancelotti told a news conference.

"I think it is clear that we did not play our best game on Sunday. We all know that it is a very important game to get to nine points and we are well prepared for it."

The Italian also backed Benzema to find his form again after returning from a three-week knee injury layoff and that the penalty miss against Osasuna was not a concern.

"When Karim plays a game in which he doesn't show the level that is expected from him, there will be criticism. That's normal, but it doesn't affect us," Ancelotti said.

The manager may have some selection issues in midfield on Wednesday as he was not sure if veteran playmaker Luka Modric would be fit to start. However, he expected goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to be back from injury in time for the Clasico against rivals Barcelona on Oct. 16.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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