No room for error as Real Madrid and Atletico chase Primera Liga trophy
MADRID // Coach Carlo Ancelotti wants Real Madrid to focus on winning their last three games and not the points permutations involved in the Spanish Primera Liga title race.
Madrid travel to Real Valladolid on Wednesday night knowing victory lifts them one point above Barcelona and within two of leaders Atletico Madrid with two games left for all three teams.
“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 need four points to clinch their first title since 1996 that would mean even if Madrid win their last three games and draw level on points with their city rivals it would not be enough to secure the league crown because Atletico hold the edge in the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Barcelona are still in the hunt although there are concerns in the Spanish capital the Catalan side would prefer Atletico as champions to their biggest rivals. Atletico play at Barcelona’s Camp Nou in the final fixture of the season.
“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, who remain in control of their own destiny, lead the standings with 88 points, Barcelona have 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 training yesterday.
Forward Cristiano Ronaldo did not complete the training session 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 for the Uefa Champions League final against Atletico at Lisbon on May 24.
Valladolid are 19th in the 20-team league, one point from safety ahead of tonight’s encounter, which makes up for a 34th-round date after Madrid exercised an option to postpone the match in preparation for their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich last month.
“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.”
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Published: May 6, 2014 04:00 AM