Carlo Ancelotti said the penalty awarded to Real Madrid in their 4-1 win over Valencia on Saturday "seemed quite clear" after Los Che's official Twitter account suggested it was a "robbery".

Madrid went ahead two minutes before the interval through Karim Benzema's 300th goal in all competitions for the club, the France international powering home from the spot after Omar Alderete had been penalised for a foul inside the area on Casemiro.

That led to Valencia's Twitter account posting: "The robbery in Madrid begins to be somewhat repetitive."

The tweet also tagged the hit Netflix show Money Heist, which follows a group of bank robbers in the Spanish capital.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique could not resist getting involved, replying to the Valencia tweet with the message: "Do not say it too loud that you are going to be sanctioned."

Ancelotti, though, had no issues with the award of the penalty, telling a media conference: "From a distance it seemed quite clear to me but I don't know anything else about what happened.

"I don't know what to say. I have to evaluate the game. We deserved to win and it is true that the penalty has helped us but I think the game was complete."

 

Madrid sealed a third consecutive LaLiga win over Valencia in the second half thanks to a brace from Vinicius Junior – his fourth double of the season – and a second strike from Benzema.

Vinicius has been involved in a goal every 101.6 minutes in all competitions this season for Los Blancos (14 goals, seven assists) – his best ratio in a single season for the club.

Benzema, meanwhile, became just the fourth Madrid player to hit 300 goals for the club, after Cristiano Ronaldo (450), Raul (323) and Alfredo Di Stefano (308).

Despite the duo's superb form this season, Ancelotti hinted that he could be ready to shuffle his pack up front in the coming weeks.

"I think we have to think game by game," he added. "Vinicius has returned well. He has not excelled much in dribbling but he was ready to score goals. He has scored goals from a forward area and Karim is always the same.

"We are going to compete, be it with [Marco] Asensio, Rodrygo or whoever. They have done very well. No one is immovable because each game is different.

"Today they have done very well but I also have to think about other players. We are lucky to have these players who stand out a lot."

Madrid are next in action on Wednesday when they take on arch rivals Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals.

Eden Hazard needs to have more trust in himself to return to his best level, says Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Belgium forward Hazard started just his ninth game of the season in the 3-1 victory over Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, a match in which he and fellow forwards Rodrygo Goes and Mariano Diaz struggled for fluidity.

After that game Ancelotti gave his backing to Hazard, who has struggled to consistently hit top form and been blighted by injuries since his big-money move from Chelsea in May 2019.

And the Italian struck a similar tone when addressing the media prior to Saturday's home LaLiga clash with Valencia.

"His physical condition is quite good, he just needs to trust himself, to have more trust [in his ability]," Ancelotti said.

"I think he is really close to his best level and we hope we can see it again, see his best matches again."

Hazard's lack of starts has also been affected by the supreme form of Vinicius Jr this season.

The Brazil forward has 12 goals and seven assists from 25 appearances in all competitions this term, both higher than an expected goals and assists rate of 9.16 and 5.49 respectively.

He has also created 51 chances, four of which are defined as 'big chances' by Opta, with only two LaLiga players registering more across all competitions in 2020-21.

Vinicius has not featured in the early throes of 2022 after contracting coronavirus but is back in contention to face Valencia – where Madrid are aiming to put right last week's loss to Getafe – after testing negative.

Ancelotti talked up the attacker's talents but said it is wrong to suggest Madrid rely on Vinicius.

"Well I don't think we depend on him, he has performed really well in the first half of the season but not just him also [Karim] Benzema, [Eder] Militao," Ancelotti added.

"I think we cannot focus on just one player. He's been really important. He's back, everyone is really happy about that.

"In one-on-one [situations] he's important, also on the counter-attack. He's been a really regular player, scored a lot of goals, so he has given us a lot of things. If you give him some space he's quite dangerous."

Following the Valencia game, Madrid travel to Saudi Arabia for the Supercopa de Espana, where they first face Barcelona in the semi-finals.

Gareth Bale is still out this weekend, with Ancelotti explaining he has a back issue, and is unsure whether the Wales superstar will travel with the rest of the squad for the Supercopa.

"Well we still don't know, he's not ready for the gave versus Valencia," Ancelotti said of Bale.

"[Dani] Carvajal, [Luka] Jovic and Mariano aren't either. Carvajal will travel to Arabia, Jovic probably too - let's see if he can test negative [for COVID] in the next few days. Let's see with Gareth Bale and Mariano too."

On Bale, Ancelotti added: "He has an issue in the back, he is not feeling well, he cannot push 100 per cent so until he doesn't feel pain he cannot be used by me."

Carlo Ancelotti believes Eden Hazard will recover his best form soon after Real Madrid battled past Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey.

Hazard started just his ninth game of 2021-22 in Wednesday's 3-1 victory against the third-tier outfit, who famously beat Madrid in this competition a year ago.

Dani Vega's excellent run and finish cancelled out Eder Militao's opener for Madrid, who were without several first-team regulars including Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.

Substitutes Marco Asensio and Isco eventually secured a hard-fought win, the former scoring via a deflected effort following Hazard's lay-off before Isco diverted the ball in off goalkeeper Jose Juan.

Hazard, Rodrygo and Mariano Diaz struggled to combine effectively in the Madrid attack, although the Belgium international ended the match with four chances created, at least twice as many as any other player.

Ancelotti felt the game was ill-suited to creative players but remains convinced Hazard can become a key player for Los Blancos despite an underwhelming two and a half years in Spain.

"Players of quality suffered more than the others," Ancelotti said. "He tried, then as a number nine, like Isco, who scored when he came on, and I'm happy for him.

"Hazard, Rodrygo and these players with more quality suffered more than others.

"He needs to have more confidence in one-v-ones, dribbling, shooting, because he has the quality to do that.

"His physical condition is better than a few months ago, and hopefully we'll see him back at his best level soon."

Ancelotti praised his players for surviving a battle at El Collao against a side who eliminated LaLiga strugglers Levante on penalties in the last round after a 3-3 draw.

"We played the game we had to," he said.

"Of course, we suffered [at 1-1]. They levelled the game through a really good individual action, one of quality.

"Afterwards, we didn't lose our heads and we kept playing the game. We couldn't play another game – this is the one we'd prepared.

"We finished them today. It's not our type of game because delivering quality in these types of games isn't possible.

"We stood up to a team who usually play with quality and today they put that aside and they fought. It's what they had to do. I repeat: if you don't fight here, you lose, like we did last year."

Carlo Ancelotti insisted Real Madrid's planning for next season was "already done" but did not reveal whether the club have made a fresh bid for Kylian Mbappe.

Paris Saint-Germain frontman Mbappe has entered the final six months of his contract at the Parc des Princes and it is no secret that Madrid want to bring him to Spain.

The 23-year-old was a target for Los Blancos during the last transfer window but recently ruled out leaving PSG in mid-season.

However, Italian agent Giovanni Branchini claimed LaLiga leaders Madrid have offered €50million to sign Mbappe now, less than six months after they reportedly offered up to €200m.

They could hire him as a free agent at the end of the campaign should Mbappe refuse new terms in Paris, but getting the France international through the door now would also be a major coup.

Ancelotti was asked about Branchini's comments in Madrid's news conference on Tuesday, but elected to sidestep the issue.

"Talking about players who are not here does not seem fair to me," said Ancelotti.

"I have a good relationship with Branchini. I prefer not to comment on this."

Mbappe scored a hat-trick in PSG's 4-0 Coupe de France win over Vannes on Monday and has indicated he wants to fight for trophies with Mauricio Pochettino's side this season.

Madrid are looking both short term and long term, and Ancelotti said: "The planning for next season is already done. I would find it unprofessional if a club like Madrid hadn't planned already."

On Wednesday, Madrid face Alcoyano at the Copa del Rey last-32 stage, a year on from being humiliated by the minnows at the tiny Estadio El Collao in Alcoy.

Madrid's then-coach Zinedine Zidane and his players had to swallow a 2-1 defeat last January against the third-tier team, who snatched an extra-time winner while down to 10 men.

Ancelotti said his preparation for the rematch had not involved watching a video nasty of last year's upset.

"I haven't seen last year's game," Ancelotti said. "I know what happened because the players have told me about it. It's still an open wound.

"The players know better than I what happened and what doesn't have to happen tomorrow."

A 1-0 defeat to Getafe on Sunday was a jolt to start the new year for Madrid, and Ancelotti quipped afterwards that it was as though he and his players had taken an extra day of holiday. But it will be down to business for the cup game.

"We are going to take it seriously. We know the difficulties we may have, and I will put the best team possible together," Ancelotti added.

Gareth Bale will be absent, unwell rather than injured, but Ancelotti said the Wales forward could come into the equation for the LaLiga tussle with Valencia on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti took a swipe at a subdued performance from Real Madrid in the 1-0 defeat to Getafe, saying: "It seems we stayed on holiday for one more day."

The Madrid head coach said there was no cause for "drama or tragedy" given his team continue to blaze a trail at the top of LaLiga.

However, the shock loss at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez was a miserable way to begin 2022 for the capital titans, who are attempting to unseat neighbours Atletico Madrid as Spanish champions.

It was the second time in three seasons under Ancelotti, who was appointed in June for a second spell with Los Blancos, that Madrid have lost their opening game of a calendar year.

The previous defeat came against Valencia at Mestalla in January 2015, when a 2-1 loss halted a run of 22 consecutive wins.

This time, Madrid fell behind inside nine minutes when Eder Militao was caught dawdling on the edge of the penalty area by Enes Unal, who fired past Thibaut Courtois.

Luka Modric, Casemiro and star striker Karim Benzema went close to finding an equaliser, but a gritty Getafe held on for the points.

"We had a reaction for the first 10 minutes after the goal, then we were nervous and lost balls and duels," Ancelotti said.

"I think there is not much to say about this game. It seems we stayed on holiday for one more day.

"It didn't seem like the team that ended the year: less concentration, less commitment. We didn't deserve to win, but we didn't deserve to lose either.

"We gave away a goal and lost. It is a wake-up call. We didn't play well and there are no excuses."

 

The former Chelsea and Milan boss had not expected such a pallid showing from his side, having observed they were looking sharp in training.

And he accepted it was not his finest day as a coach either, saying: "The coach might also have been on holiday today."

Italian boss Ancelotti added: "We face this defeat without drama or tragedy because we continue to be leaders."

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti wants consistency when it comes to match postponement protocols following calls to have Barcelona's trip to Real Mallorca cancelled despite them being able to name a squad.

Several LaLiga clubs have suffered with coronavirus outbreaks over the past month or so, with Madrid among them.

Their bitter rivals Barcelona have come into 2022 amid something of a selection crisis of their own, with Xavi set to be without 17 players for their trip to Real Mallorca on Sunday.

Nine of the 17 are absent due to testing positive for COVID-19 in the past week, with Barca coach Xavi calling the decision not to postpone their match "crazy".

While postponements have become commonplace in the Premier League in recent weeks, LaLiga has remained generally uninterrupted due to regulations that make such situations far rarer.

Teams still have to play so long as they have 13 available players from their first and second teams.

Clubs must continue to adhere to the rule that dictates a minimum of seven players registered to the senior team are on the pitch at the same time, but that can drop to five players if teams have fewer than seven professionals available for selection.

Essentially, providing Barca can name five first-team players in a starting XI – there are 11 in the squad travelling to Mallorca – their games will not be postponed, and Ancelotti points out that any wavering in this regard would highlight a lack of consistency.

When asked if games should be postponed, Ancelotti told reporters: "It's a complicated issue. I respect everyone's opinion, because each person has their own.

"A lot of teams have been affected, as we were against Athletic [Bilbao]. There are protocols. We can offer opinions but we have to respect the protocols.

"Before making these decisions [to postpone games], the protocols would have to be changed.

"We've already been on hiatus, and there were a few months without games being played. The pandemic is relatively under control, and we have to continue [playing]."

Given Ancelotti's news conference fell on January 1, he was predictably asked again about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer – the Frenchman is now eligible to discuss a move as he is in the final six months of his contract.

But, unsurprisingly, the Italian gave short shrift to the questioning.

"I don't know," he replied to being quizzed on whether Mbappe will join. "We're thinking about fighting for titles.

"It's an interesting time because we're fighting for LaLiga, and the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana are starting too.

"It's an important period. The last thing I'm thinking about is what's going to happen on June 30.

"What I want is that, when the new stadium opens, I'll be sitting on the bench."

Carlo Ancelotti has been pleased with LaLiga leaders Real Madrid's performances up to the halfway point of the campaign but warned there is a long way to go in the title race.

Karim Benzema's first-half double was enough to see Madrid past Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on Wednesday, the striker becoming just the fourth player – excluding Lionel Messi (nine times) and Cristiano Ronaldo (seven) – to hit 30-plus LaLiga goals in a calendar year.

Toni Kroos assisted the first of Benzema's seven-minute brace, the Germany international's 77th assist in all competitions for Los Blancos since signing in the 2014-15 campaign – no Madrid player has managed more in that period.

Ancelotti's side, who were without the likes of David Alaba and Isco due to COVID-19, managed to hang on for victory to move eight points clear of second-placed Sevilla heading into 2022.

The Italian boss, who is undefeated in six top-flight meetings with Marcelino, told reporters of his pride in the performance of his rotated side: "The victory means a lot to us, because of the COVID casualties, because of the complete game that has come out with a team that was not used to playing together. 

"We must highlight this, the game of Nacho, Lucas [Vazquez], [Eduardo] Camavinga, [Eden] Hazard, [Federico] Valverde ... They all had a great game. 

"Most of the time it was a game of quality and great commitment, that's the most important thing for me, almost like the three points, which is what always counts."

Asked about his side's lead and title credentials, Ancelotti responded: "We have done very well, but the balance is at the end of the season. So far, so good. 

"We will see if something can be won, that is the requirement of this club. But now we have a week off, we deserve it."

 

San Mames has been a happy hunting ground for Madrid, who are without defeat in seven league games in Bilbao – their best ever unbeaten streak there.

The home crowd greeted Benzema's late removal with rapturous applause and Ancelotti hailed his forward's performance alongside the work rate of Eden Hazard and Vinicius Junior.

Ancelotti added on Benzema's reception: "The ovation to Karim was fantastic, this stadium has a spectacular atmosphere, I really like it. Karim has deserved it.

"They [Hazard and Vinicius] understand very well what the team has to do, in defence and attack, they did it well. 

"They were committed and put quality, especially at the beginning. The difference is defending, we know this team can attack and score, we have very good individuals. So far, we are doing well."

Indeed, Madrid have defended well, conceding just one goal across December despite facing Athletic twice, Inter, Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid.

Ancelotti was also buoyed on by the continued return of Hazard, whose career with the LaLiga giants has been hampered by injuries and fitness issues so far.

The Madrid head coach said on Hazard: "Yes, it works for the team, it is true that he had doubts about his physical appearance, but he did well, in the second half he fought, he tried things. He's back, I agree."

Madrid next face Getafe on January 2 after the mid-season break and will be boosted by the return of Rodrygo, who confirmed he had tested negative for coronavirus after initially returning a positive test last Thursday.

Karim Benzema reached 30 LaLiga goals in 2021 with a first-half double as Real Madrid edged past Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to extend their lead at the summit.

Benzema's brace inside seven minutes on Wednesday quickly helped atone for Madrid's goalless draw with lowly Cadiz last time out.

Oihan Sancet halved the deficit in a frantic opening at San Mames, but the hosts rarely troubled Thibaut Courtois after the interval as Carlo Ancelotti's side navigated the contest to seal the three points.

Victory means Madrid boast an eight-point advantage over second-placed Sevilla heading into 2022 and a 17-point lead over defending champions Atletico Madrid, who were defeated by Granada.

Madrid struck first when Benzema expertly whipped into the bottom-right corner following Toni Kroos' offload, before the France striker added a quickfire second as he rolled past Julen Agirrezabala – Madrid scoring twice in the first seven minutes of a top-flight game for the first time since 1994.

Sancet responded by crashing a strike from the edge of the area in off the left post, with Unai Vencedor then wastefully curling just over as Athletic searched for an equaliser.

Kroos sliced harmlessly off target from range after the interval, while Inaki Williams fired narrowly wide and Raul Garcia blasted over as the game headed towards what promised to be a nervy ending.

Substitute Nico Williams then failed to slide under Courtois as Athletic, despite their best efforts, were unable to find a late leveller as Madrid held on for a narrow victory to make it 11 LaLiga games unbeaten. 


What does it mean? Madrid title charge marches on as unbeaten run continues

Ancelotti's side frustratingly saw their 10-game winning run across all competitions abruptly ended in a goalless draw with Cadiz, but Madrid responded excellently to ensure a healthy eight-point lead heading into LaLiga's mid-season break.

Athletic, who are winless in their past 14 top-flight meetings with Madrid, proved fierce competition for the visitors but could not stop Los Blancos from continuing their unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back to early October.

Brilliant Benz in cruise control

Benzema's first-half double were his 29th and 30th goals of 2021 in LaLiga. Since the turn of the century only four players – excluding Lionel Messi (nine times) and Cristiano Ronaldo (seven) – have reached the 30-goal milestone in the competition.

Indeed, the France international joins esteemed company with Luis Suarez (2015 and 2016), Radamel Falcao (2012) and Ronaldo Nazario (2003) the others to achieve the feat and the Madrid striker now also has 17 goals in 26 games against Athletic across all competitions.

Muniain masterclass in vain

Iker Muniain delivered a creative masterclass on the left wing against Lucas Vazquez, though the Athletic veteran's showing eventually proved in vain.

The Spain international created a game-high four chances – two more than any other player on the pitch – as he produced a delightful attacking display for the home crowd.

What's next?

Madrid return to action in the new year as they travel to Getafe on January 2, while Athletic visit Osasuna the day after.

Real Madrid playmaker Isco has been unfortunate to miss out on a place in the side, according to Carlo Ancelotti.

Isco, who was signed during Ancelotti's first stint as Madrid coach in 2013, has made just seven appearances under the Italian this season, totalling just 176 minutes.

The midfielder has struggled with fitness in recent seasons and was out of favour under previous boss Zinedine Zidane.

Once an integral part of Madrid's system, Isco has started only nine times in all competitions across the entirety of 2021, making 25 appearances in total, scoring one goal and providing only one assist, having created 22 chances for team-mates.

With Ancelotti persisting with a 4-3-3 formation, down in large part to the superb form of Vinicius Junior on the left flank, Isco has found opportunities hard to come by and has not played since featuring against Granada on November 21. He last started a match in August.

Reports on Monday suggested Isco had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing his 2021 to an end prior to Wednesday's meeting with Athletic Bilbao.

Though Ancelotti did not confirm if these reports were accurate, he did say Isco would not play against Athletic. However, he does not believe the Spain international's chances of regaining his place in Madrid's starting XI are over.

"It is a complicated issue to describe exactly what has happened," Ancelotti told a news conference.

"He hasn't yet had the opportunity to show how good he is, because the team started playing much better. It coincided with Isco not being in the team then, so it's been difficult to get back in the team.

 

"Nacho is another player [like this], [Federico] Valverde, [Eduardo] Camavinga, Marcelo. These are players who haven't had much playing time because the players playing now are playing really well.

"They've not had the opportunity to show how good they really are. But Isco and the other players I've named are happy carrying themselves in a professional manner, there are no issues, I am not unhappy with any of these players.

"They've accepted that the team are doing really well, and they continue to train and work hard and are waiting for their opportunity.

"Right now, unfortunately, Isco isn't available, because he could have played on Wednesday."

Another player who has been in and out of the team is Eden Hazard. The Belgium forward made his first LaLiga start since September as Madrid drew 0-0 with Cadiz last time out, despite having 36 attempts (the most of any team without scoring since at least 2003-04).

Asked if Hazard could handle the short turnaround, Ancelotti replied: "I have to evaluate the recovery of the player. Yesterday was fine.

"He has done a recovery session like the others, he trains today and then we will evaluate him. It is clear that he is not a winger who plays on the outside, as Vinicius can be, but that he likes the left wing or behind the striker. 

"It is an option that we have, because what I want is for the player to be comfortable in the position he plays."

Ancelotti will be without Luka Modric on Wednesday, with the midfielder still not back in training after contracting coronavirus.

Carlo Ancelotti insisted nobody should be blamed after Real Madrid's disappointing 0-0 draw at home to struggling Cadiz, applauding the performance even if the outcome was not as expected.

Madrid had been hoping to extend their winning run to eight league matches but failed to convert their superiority into goals at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Los Blancos' 36 shots amounted to 10 more than any other team have had in a single LaLiga match this season and the most since Madrid themselves had 37 attempts against Levante in April 2013.

Those shots equated to 2.8 expected goals (xG), meaning it was only the fourth time in the past decade that Madrid have failed to score in a LaLiga game despite registering at least 2.8 xG.

Cadiz defended valiantly, their 14 blocks being the most any team has recorded in a game since Opta began collecting this data (2005-06), somehow managing to leave the Santiago Bernabeu with at least a point for the second season in a row.

 

Yet, as frustrating as it would have been for his team to fail to beat 19th-placed Cadiz, Ancelotti looked on the bright side.

Speaking to Movistar, Ancelotti said: "I think we've tried in every way, but it has not turned out well.

"It didn't work, but we tried, and therefore I don't have to blame [anyone]. There are many positive things, the only thing that wasn't positive was not having won the three points, but this is football.

"There are times you don't deserve it and you win, and others you deserve it and you don't win. They have played us with a set-up that always challenges us, but that's the way it is.

"In the first half what we didn't do well was breaking their back line, the intensity wasn't very high. The second half was different, we created a lot of opportunities.

"The ball didn't go in, but, personally, I'm happy. We tried, I don't know what more we could do. We could have had more quality in the final metres, but I am not going to ask my team for more."

 

Numerous Madrid players caught the eye but one of the most notable – even if he was not necessarily the standout star – was Eden Hazard.

The Belgian has been a massive disappointment since joining Madrid from Chelsea, with injuries playing a major role in disrupting him, but he looked bright at times on what was his first LaLiga start since September.

Hazard had three shots, his match-high 0.77 xG showing he was a threat, while he also played five key passes, the second most he has tallied in a league game for Madrid.

Ancelotti added: "It was difficult for him to get into the game, but in the second half he did very well with better combinations with the forwards.

"It is clear that Hazard can be one more weapon for us in the second half of the season."

 

Carlo Ancelotti says Barcelona "are not a direct rival" for Real Madrid at the moment, with the Blaugrana enduring a difficult season.

Los Blancos are eight points clear at the top of the table, having lost just once in La Liga this season against Espanyol on October 3.

Barca, meanwhile, are 18 points adrift of the leaders in eighth place and have won only six LaLiga games so far this term.

Madrid head coach Ancelotti feels that the likes of Sevilla and Real Betis, who are second and third respectively, pose a more immediate threat than the Catalan club.

"Now Barcelona is not a direct rival because we are closer [to] Sevilla, Atletico or Betis, but if I were Barcelona's coach I would say that we can't rule out LaLiga either," Ancelotti said to a news conference ahead of Los Blancos' league clash with Cadiz.

Ancelotti is without six players for Sunday's encounter due to COVID-19, with Marcelo, Luka Modric, Andriy Lunin, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Rodrygo all unavailable, while Isco is a doubt.

The Italian gave fitness updates on the rest of the squad and was particularly optimistic about Eden Hazard's chances of playing a starring role.

"It is true that we have had setbacks but those who have tested positive are fine and the rest are ready to play tomorrow's game," Ancelotti continued.

"After the first positive tests, the [rest] all tested negative and we are determined to play. We have to live with it just as society is doing. This virus is less strong than before and we have to keep in mind that we have to take care of ourselves and follow all precautions.

"Hazard starts tomorrow. He wants motivation and he's going to play because he trained well and deserves it. He is always well. The problem is that he has not always been able to train 100 per cent and I think that tomorrow he will play a good game.

"Hazard is prepared. It is clear that in the first part of the season he had the competition of [Karim] Benzema and Vinicius [Junior] and now he can have a very, very good second part of the season.

"Benzema has trained very well. He is very well and will play. Modric has tested negative but remains confined. He is tired and has had a fever so he will not be there tomorrow. Then we have to assess what the regulations say."

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid are "clear favourites" for the LaLiga title after their convincing 2-0 El Derbi win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

LaLiga leaders Madrid moved 13 points clear of fourth-placed Atleti as goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio stretched their unbeaten league run over their city rivals to 11 games.

It was Madrid's seventh consecutive top-flight win and lifted them seven points clear of Sevilla, although Unai Emery's team do have a game in hand.

Asked about his impact on his team's fine run, Ancelotti told a media conference: "I don't think it's the Ancelotti effect; I have a team that leaves me calm because of what they do on the field.

"They handle the game very well and they have defensive commitment. It's a team, not just high-quality players, and that's the difference.

"We are clear favourites [for the title] because we have done very well, better than others, but we are focused on the next matches because a mental downturn can cost us dearly. This is the only way to get closer to winning.

"Of the team I really like the defensive aspect; it is the one that we have improved the most since the beginning of the season.

"We are more solid. Although the pressure is not too high, with a lower block we use the forwards for the counter-attacks."

Ancelotti was fulsome in his praise of Luka Modric after another supreme display from the veteran midfielder.  

The Croatia international made a joint-team high three interceptions and completed 90.1 per cent of his passes, with his all-round display leaving his boss purring.

"I have congratulated him on the game because he was incredible," Ancelotti added.

"I don't know what I said, but he was spectacular with and without the ball. It was extraordinary. 

"He had a spectacular game, with personality and character. He is an extraordinary player."

 

Both of Madrid's goals were created by Vinicius Junior, with the Brazil international becoming the first player to provide two assists in a LaLiga clash between Madrid and Atleti in the 21st century.

"He is improving himself," Ancelotti explained. "I don't talk to him much because I don't have much to say to him; he just needs to make it effective. 

"I tell him he doesn't have to dribble to do it. You have to do something to help the team and he has made two assists that have helped us win the game."

Carlo Ancelotti sees no need to assess the impact Diego Simeone has had at Atletico Madrid and can only hope to replicate the Argentine's longevity.

Ancelotti returned to Madrid for his second spell as coach in June, after leaving Everton.

He has overseen something of a resurgence after a disappointing campaign last season, with Los Blancos sitting pretty at the top of LaLiga with 39 points from their 16 games.

Reigning champions Atleti visit Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday for the first Madrid derby of the season. Simeone's men sit 10 points behind Ancelotti's side in fourth place, albeit with a game in hand.

Ancelotti and Simeone have met 15 times previously across all competitions. The Italian has managed five wins to Simeone's four, while six of the encounters were drawn.

However, none of Ancelotti's victories have come in LaLiga, with Simeone's Atleti winning three times out of four – the other game resulting in a draw.

 

Indeed, Simeone is the only coach that Ancelotti has faced on four or more occasions in LaLiga without winning, though he did enjoy a famous win over Atleti in the 2014 Champions League final, as Madrid clinched "La Decima".

"I am not the one who has to say what Simeone has done at Atletico," Ancelotti told a news conference on Saturday.

"He has put Atleti among the best clubs in Europe. What has happened with Simeone is what all the coaches want, to stay in a club for a long time and leave their mark on the club.

"It is the dream of any coach. Hopefully it can happen to me at Madrid."

If Ancelotti really does wish to stay for a sustained spell at Madrid, then he is off to a strong start – Los Blancos have lost just one league game this term and have finished top of their Champions League group – although the 62-year-old has not spent longer than two years at any club since leaving Milan in 2009.

Ancelotti has managed in most of Europe's biggest rival matches, from the Merseyside and Milan derbies to Der Klassiker and El Clasico, but he insists Madrid must keep a lid on their emotions on Sunday in order to claim the points.

"It is three points. Then the emotional aspect, which is playing a derby against a direct rival," he added.

"It is clear that this is going to put more pressure on both teams. It is a game that all the fans feel in a particular way, but in the table there are three points [on offer]."

Asked if a victory would put Madrid well in control of the title race, Ancelotti replied: "We will have three more points over an opponent who will fight to the end to win this competition. 

"I don't want to put more pressure on this game than it already is.

"We have shown that we have done better than the other teams to date. But the league does not end today, we have to play for six more months and I don't know what can happen. So far we have done better, but we are concerned about the future, not the past."

Ancelotti did not win LaLiga during his first stint at Madrid, and conceded he has unfinished business in that regard.

"I would value it like the other titles we have won," he said.

"The Champions League is the most important competition in Europe and the world. LaLiga is also an important title and it is true that not having won it here gives me more motivation."

Carlo Ancelotti is not getting carried away over Real Madrid's Champions League prospects despite Tuesday's 2-0 win at home to Inter sealing top spot in Group D.

Madrid just needed to avoid a defeat to go through to the knockout phase as group winners, but they ultimately battled to a commendable victory over the Italian champions.

Toni Kroos netted a glorious first-half opener, before a similarly satisfying Marco Asensio curler wrapped up the win 11 minutes from time.

As such, Madrid will – theoretically – get a kinder draw than runners-up Inter in the last 16, potentially setting them up nicely to reach the quarter-finals.

Los Blancos went as far as the last four in 2020-21 following back-to-back round-of-16 eliminations, though Ancelotti is not making any sweeping statements regarding their chances of going deeper into the competition this time around.

He told reporters: "We have the quality to win LaLiga and the quality to compete in the Champions League.

"There are no teams with the quality [guaranteed] to win the Champions League, just to compete.

"There are more intense teams, others with more quality. We are not an intense team in the defensive aspect, but we have a lot of quality, a lot of experience and a lot of commitment."

Luka Modric made his 100th Champions League appearance on Tuesday, becoming only the ninth player to reach that landmark while at Madrid. Eight of those games came during his time at Tottenham.

Modric turned in a typically controlling display and completed the full 90 minutes, which was somewhat surprising given the important nature of Sunday's clash with Atletico Madrid.

There had been calls prior to the weekend win over Real Sociedad for Ancelotti to rotate his midfield more, yet Modric is heading into the derby having played 90 minutes both against La Real and Inter.

The Croatian is not concerned, however.

"I feel very good," the 36-year-old told Movistar. "I think you don't have to look at the years, you have to look at what you do on the field. The years are less and less noticeable because players' careers are prolonged.

"I feel very good, and I feel like I am younger than 30!"

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted he does not "have to prove anything to anyone" as his side prepare to host Inter.

Madrid hold an eight-point advantage at the top of LaLiga, while they have already qualified through Group D in the Champions League.

The two top sides meet on Tuesday, with Ancelotti's team boasting a two-point lead over Inter, who have not defeated Spanish opposition in Europe since October 2004.

Madrid have also won their last three games in the Champions League against the Serie A outfit, though the pre-match focus was on the latter stages of the continental competition as the Spanish giants look for an unprecedented 14th title.

"I don't have to prove anything to anyone," Ancelotti responded to reporters at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"I have a very young coaching staff and also young footballers with a lot of enthusiasm and desire to learn. With this coaching staff, I feel very good because we can combine their enthusiasm and my experience well.

"I can't say if Madrid is the favourite or not to win the Champions League, but we can compete against any team. If you want to win this competition, you have to face the best. If you have the goal of reaching the final, you will have to beat strong teams.

"In the second year of my first stage, we were very close to success. The period between January and February did not go well, we suffered important injuries like [Luka] Modric's. But each year has its history and you cannot compare that with the current one.

"The history and tradition of this club, which is the best in the world, involves a requirement. When we won La Decima we enjoyed it and celebrated it, but we had to move on. This is what this club and this fans are asking for."

Inter head to the Spanish capital after a dominant 3-0 win over Jose Mourinho's Roma moved them within a point of leaders Milan in the league.

Simone Inzaghi's side also know a win will ensure top spot in Group D but Inter have not defeated Madrid away from home in European competition since March 1967.

Ancelotti, though, is expecting a great battle with the Nerazzurri, who have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign.

"It is a prestigious game for us," he added. "We play against a team that is doing very well, playing football well. 

"We play [for] first place and that is important. And we play in our stadium in front of our fans. It will be an interesting match."

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