Ancelotti calls on Madrid to win last 3 games
MADRID (AP) — Coach Carlo Ancelotti wants Real Madrid to focus on winning its last three games and not the points’ permutations involved in the Spanish league title race.
Madrid travels to Real Valladolid on Wednesday knowing victory lifts it one point above Barcelona and within two of leader Atletico Madrid with two games left for all three.
“The mathematics of it say there is still no champion, so we just have to believe in ourselves and win the last three games,” Ancelotti said. “I’m certain all teams will try to win their final games. We saw surprising results last week. All the teams are fighting right up to the last minute.”
Atletico needs four points to clinch its first title since 1996, which would mean even if Madrid wins its last three games and ties its city rival it wouldn’t be enough because Atletico holds the edge in the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Barcelona is still in the hunt although there are concerns in the Spanish capital the Catalan side would prefer Atletico as champion to its biggest rival. Atletico plays at Barcelona in the final round.
“We’re all professionals,” Ancelotti said of the speculation. “With everyone’s image in mind, I think Barcelona will play to its best ability against Atletico.”
Atletico, which remains in control of its destiny, leads the standings with 88 points, Barcelona has 85, and Madrid 83.
Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has shaken off a thigh injury that kept the Croatia midfielder from Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Valencia, to return to the squad, but forward Gareth Bale and defender Dani Carvajal are doubts against Valladolid after missing Tuesday training.
Forward Cristiano Ronaldo did not complete the training session either as he has recently returned from a left leg injury.
Iker Casillas is also expected to make his first league start since January 2013 as Ancelotti looks to give the Spain goalkeeper more playing time in preparation of the Champions League final against Atletico on May 24.
Valladolid is 19th in the 20-team league, one point from safety ahead of Wednesday’s match, which makes up for a 34th-round date.
“Valladolid needs to win to get out of the drop zone and we need to win to keep our chances of winning the league alive, so it will be a difficult contest,” Ancelotti said, “and we’ll have to play our best to win.”