Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is hoping to turn the disappointment of their Copa del Rey elimination at the hands of Atletico Madrid in midweek into an advantage in the Spanish La Liga title race. Whilst Atletico will now face Barcelona in a two-legged quarter-final over the next two weeks, Real will be able to concentrate solely on league matters until they return to UEFA Champions League duty away to German side Schalke 04 on February 18.
Real currently lead Barcelona by a point at the top of the table and have a game in hand on the Catalans.
“The conclusion was that in the two games we had little control of the game. We played well, but committed errors that prevented us from going through,” Ancelotti said on Saturday. “We’re disappointed because it was one of the club’s objectives, but now we have to look forward and think about the two competitions we are still in. We have a month now to concentrate on La Liga and if possible gain points on our rivals.”
Real Madrid had ended 2014 on a club record 22-game winning streak as they won their fourth trophy of the year at the FIFA Club World Cup in December. However, the European champions haven’t been able to replicate that form so far in 2015 as Thursday’s 2-2 draw against Atletico means they have now won just one of four games so far this year. Ancelotti, though, insisted that his side’s drop off in form isn’t due to tiredness.
“I don’t need to rotate. Rotating is not indispensable. It is important to change a player if they are tired, but I don’t see any of my players as being tired. There is neither tiredness nor a lack of attitude. The squad isn’t short. Toni Kroos and Cristiano (Ronaldo) have played more than others because they are very important. I don’t think they need to rest at the moment, but when they do I will rest them.”
Ancelotti will be forced into at least one change from midweek as Raphael Varane will replace the injured Pepe in central defence.