MADRID – Real Madrid may have extended their lead over second-placed Barcelona at the top of La Liga to four points on Sunday but coach Carlo Ancelotti still expects the title to be decided on the final day of the campaign.
Real took full advantage of Barca’s 1-0 defeat at home to Malaga on Saturday and their 2-0 success at Elche lifted them to 60 points with 14 games left, with Barca on 56, three ahead of third-placed champions Atletico Madrid.
La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo struck again for Real after Wednesday’s effort at Schalke 04 in the Champions League, suggesting the Portugal captain’s brief goal drought is over, and Ancelotti’s side have gone three straight games without conceding a goal.
Ronaldo has 29 goals in Spain’s top flight, three ahead of great rival Lionel Messi of Barca, who drew a blank on Saturday after hitting top form since the turn of the year. “This means that the team is defending well and neither today nor on Wednesday did we allow the opponent many chances,” Ancelotti told a news conference.
“It was a key game because of what happened (on Saturday) and so we could put some distance between ourselves and Barca,” added the Italian. “With this attitude we will win a lot of games. We have an advantage but this league will be decided on the final day.”
Ancelotti, who is looking to improve on Real’s third-placed finish in La Liga last term, said he had been surprised by Barca’s stumble against seventh-placed Malaga, which ended the Catalan giants’ 11-match winning streak in all competitions.
Real’s Spain playmaker Isco, who has been on fine form in recent weeks, sounded a note of caution.
Real have two tough La Liga games at home to Villarreal and away at Athletic Bilbao before they take a 2-0 lead over Schalke into the Champions League last 16, second leg at the Bernabeu on March 10. The La Liga ‘Clasico’ at Barca is on March 22.
“There are a lot of matches left,” Isco told reporters.
“Malaga did us a favour and we couldn’t let this chance slip.”