Leading the La Liga table by three points, Carlo Ancelotti has declared that Real Madrid have eyes only for Malaga as they enter a particularly hectic week of football.
Real Madrid visit 13th placed Malaga on Saturday as they look to hold on to their slender lead in Spain with crucial Champions League and La Liga fixtures lined up for the squad in the coming week. Schalke 04 visit Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League tie on Tuesday and then Barcelona come to Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday in a league fixture that could very well decide the fate of La Liga this season.
Talking to the press before the match against Malaga, Ancelotti claimed that Real Madrid are not thinking about the El Clasico and have eyes only for their next opponent.
“We are not distracted and are not talking about the Clásico. We’re only talking about Málaga and after that we’ll only discuss Schalke. We don’t have any distraction issues.”
Ancelotti believes that Malaga will put up a strong resistance on Saturday and Real Madrid will have to play with a lot of intensity if they are to overcome their opposition away from home.
“We really need to prepare for this match because Málaga has played very well the last few weeks. They’ve improved. The players know the league won’t be decided until the final game of the season. We’ll have to play with a lot of intensity just as we did against Levante in order to win.”
The Italian believes that Real Madrid have the season under control and will have to concentrate on winning their fixtures without bothering about their rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
“Our destiny is in our hands. We have a small lead on Barcelona and Atleti but we must play well regardless of our rivals’ results. We can only worry about ourselves. We have a positive philosophy in place.”
The Los Blancos have been dealt a serious blow after Arbeloa was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. Carvajal too picked up a knock in their previous encounter which means that Ancelotti will be hard-pressed for a right-back as he prepares his squad to play three crucial fixtures in a single week.
“Arbeloa will be missed, especially for his attitude. We’ll have to fix the situation as we did with Khedira’s absence. This week I have worked with Nacho at right back. He’s a quality player and can get the job done. Sergio Ramos also played right back in the past but that is a last resort.”
Real Madrid appear to have transformed themselves under Carlo Ancelotti and have come to play good attacking football. With a strong defence at the back, Ancelotti’s Madrid sparkles with the presence of Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Di Maria and Isco at the front. Talking about his young Spaniard Isco, Ancelotti admitted that he is trying to fit the player as a central midfielder, a spot that has been occupied by Di Maria in the past few months. Though Isco had been left out after a dazzling start to the season, it seems he is back in contention for a starting spot and the manager appears to be giving the youngster every opportunity to prove his mettle.
“We have to acclimate him to the center-mid position. It’s different from being an attacking midfielder. You have to work harder on defense. I’ve told Isco that his situation is similar to that of Seedorf, and he liked the comparison. Isco can help the team in this position. Di María had only played that role for Argentina, but he’s adapted very well.”
Playing three crucial fixtures in a span of one week, Ancelotti will have to rotate his squad wisely if he is to keep his players for the El Clasico next week. The Italian will take respite from the fact that his team was able to dispose Schalke 04 away from home with a margin of 5 goals. This will allow Ancelotti to give his midfielders, especially Alonso and Modric an important break before facing Barcelona next Sunday. Real Madrid have no dearth of players in their squad and have the privilege of Isco, Jese, Varane and Morata warming the bench at Santiago Bernabeu. It proves to be an important week for Real Madrid and it remains to be seen if Carlo Ancelotti can keep his players ready for the big occasion.