Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insists his players are all about continuing their good run when they face Malaga on Saturday.
The Los Merengues could extend their lead at the top of the Spanish La Liga by five points before Sunday, when second-placed Barcelona travel to Mestalla to face Valencia- fourth in the table- and Atletico Madrid hosts Deportivo La Coruna.
“We really have to be on our guard and if we want to win we need to be on top form,” said Ancelotti in his pre-game media briefing at the club’s Ciudad press room.
Wednesday’s victory away to FC Basel in the group stages of the Uefa Champions League completed the European champions’ 15th consecutive win in all competitions, equaling a club record set by Miguel Munoz’s team in 1960-61 and then matched under Jose Mourinho in the 2011-12 campaign.
The Italian boss rates beating Malaga at La Rosaleda primary to setting a club record for consecutive victories.
Ancelotti, 55, said: “Our style doesn’t change whether we’re away or at home, and we don’t talk about the possibility of setting a new record for wins. We only try to prepare each game and think about our opponent. It’s going to be a difficult match and we need to perform well. We have to keep the run going to continue as leaders.”
Ancelotti says midfielder Sami Khedira is not ready to play against Malaga but “will be ready for next week”.
German World Cup winner, Toni Kroos, who has been named in a 15-man shortlist for the midfield position on the Fifa/FIFPro World XI, would play despite starting in Switzerland in the midweek.
“He’s going to play at Málaga. He might be a bit tired, but tomorrow we need him. He’ll rest next week. We have a replacement in Illarra, who is the most suitable player to come in for him. He has returned from an injury and played very well in the match against Basel,” he added.
“The team has improved physically and that has given us confidence.
“The team doesn’t look tired to me. They have recovered well from the match against Basel and we don’t need to rotate. Kroos might be a bit tired and next week, in our match in the Copa (Del Rey), we’ll make some rotations.”
Isco returns to face his former club more than one year after his departure, while Gareth Bale is in good shape to add to his 5 La Liga goals so far this season.
Platini’s view on Ballon d’Or is wrong
Ancelotti deemed Michel Platini’s suggestion that the Ballon d’Or should go to a member of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad rather than Cristiano Ronaldo “wrong”.
Ronaldo is the reigning holder of the accolade and is favourite to retain the honour after helping the ‘Los Blancos’ to ‘La Decima’, with four-time former winner Lionel Messi also in contention after another prolific season for Barcelona and having helped Argentina to the World Cup final.
Earlier in the week, President of European football governing body, Platini, said the winner should be “a world champion.”
“He is the president of UEFA and in his position I don’t think it’s right for him to give his opinion on this matter,” Ancelotti opined.
Mario Goetze, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger are the players from Germany’s triumphant squad shortlisted for the award.
Real added in a statement: “The Ballon d’Or is an individual rather than collective prize which is awarded annually to the best player in the world, and we believe that, in order to maintain its prestige, those who participate in the vote should take into account exclusively the individual professional achievements of the players.”
Ronaldo has scored 50 goals in 45 appearances for Real Madrid this year; 6 more than Messi has managed in 47 appearances for Barca- though the Argentine is 3 assists better than the Portuguese.
Nonetheless, Messi has managed 3 more goals than Ronaldo on the international stage having appeared in five more internationals than the winger.
On Messi, who recently broke the all-time record for the most goals in the Spanish Primera Division and the Champions League, Ancelotti said: “At the moment he is showing his immense talent. He is a fantastic player and I don’t want to talk about what Barcelona are doing concerning the Ballon d’Or. I only look at the most recent games and Messi has played very well.”