Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid are in the ideal position to kick on towards silverware, as they prepare to host Real Sociedad on Saturday at 20:00 (Match Betting – Real Madrid 4/7, Draw 16/5, Real Sociedad 9/2).
Los Blancos sit five points clear of Sevilla at the top of La Liga, with a game in hand, but face a tough test against the Basques, who are sixth in the standings and travel to the Bernabeu on the back of wins over Osasuna and Mallorca.
They are also unbeaten in their last two trips to Real and their hosts may also have one eye on midweek, with them set to host Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday in the second leg of their last 16 tie, chasing a 1-0 deficit from the first game in the Champions League knockout round (Match Betting – Real Madrid 8/5, Draw 11/4, Paris Saint-Germain 8/5).
Ancelotti returned to the Spanish capital in the summer and has settled the club down after the uncertainty that surrounded the end of Zinedine Zidane’s reign.
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Having excelled as a player with Parma, Milan and Roma, the 62-year-old has also enjoyed a glittering coaching career and his experience tells him that his side are trending nicely heading into the spring.
“We’re ready for this stage of the season, I hope we can show that against Real Sociedad, a team who play some good football,” said the coach.
“The reality is that we have a six-point lead in La Liga, which is hugely important and we have to fight to the end, while we can recover from the slight deficit in the Champions League.
“The team is in good shape and we have the motivation and desire to do it.”
There is plenty of other exciting action around Europe on Saturday, with the headline match in Germany pitching Bayern Munich against a Bayer Leverkusen side in decent form at 14:30 (Match Betting – Bayern Munich 4/11, Draw 5/1, Bayer Leverkusen 6/1).
FC Hollywood are eight points clear in the standings and seem to have regained their composure after a tough start to the year.
Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen have lost just one of their last seven to rise to third in the Bundesliga but have won just once at the Allianz Arena since 2012.
Over in Italy, European candidates Roma and Atalanta clash at the Stadio Olimpico at 17:00, with Jose Mourinho’s side eyeing a second straight victory (Match Betting – Roma 6/4, Draw 9/4, Atalanta 15/8).
The Giallorossi sit sixth, three points and a place adrift of La Dea, who head to the capital on the back of a 4-0 win over Sampdoria.
Finally to France and Paris Saint-Germain will have to do without the suspended Kylian Mbappe as they head to Nice (Match Betting – Nice 10/3, Draw 11/4, PSG 4/5).
The 23-year-old will sit out the match, giving him a rest ahead of the Real return and his teammates will need to step up against Les Aiglons, who sit third in the standings.
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino admits Mbappe’s absence could be an issue but also feels it gives his other stars a chance to stand up and prove their worth.
“We’re talking about one of the best players in the world,” he told reporters. “The psychological aspect is important for his teammates and the opponent. But we know it can happen during a season. The important thing is that the squad believes in its collective strength.
“We’re talking about one of the best players in the world. The psychological aspect is important for his teammates and the opponent. But we know it can happen during a season. The important thing is that the squad believes in its collective strength.”
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