Madrid’s Retaliation Eases Ancelotti’s Anxiety Ahead of Pivotal Week

    Carlo Ancelotti praised Real Madrid’s ability to recover from Saturday’s 3-1 win over Espanyol as Los Blancos prepare to enter the deciding week with a brisk pace.

    Madrid were in danger of losing to La Liga leaders Barcelona when Joselu gave Espanyol the lead at the Santiago Bernabéu, but the champions responded well, closing the gap to six points.

    Vinicius Junior landed a precise arcing shot into the bottom right corner to equalize before Eder Militão headed Madrid into first place and Marco Asensio saved a post death.

    Madrid have gained 10 points from their La Liga drop this season, a record only bettered by Girona (12).

    Ancelotti knows that the Champions League second leg against Liverpool and the epic clash against Clasico rivals Barcelona are due in the next eight days, and Ancelotti knows Madrid have no room for error.

    “All matches are difficult, no matter who the opponent is,” he told Movistar. “We needed three points, now a very important week starts with the Champions League and Clasico.

    “The beginning was not very spectacular, then we came back, controlled the situation well, it was a good game. We had to win, we won, and now we are going for the next one.

    “We arrived in good spirits, hopefully we can prepare well for Wednesday’s game[against Liverpool]which has a lot of pitfalls to avoid.”

    Madrid have a solid 5-2 lead over Liverpool midway through their last 16 matches, becoming the first visiting team to score five goals in a European fixture at Anfield last month.

    While the European champions are big favorites to make it into the last eight, Ancelotti says last year’s quarter-final against Chelsea saw Madrid squander a 3-1 first-leg lead before winning on aggregate with a score of 5: 4, should serve as a warning.

    “I think last year we had an experience with Chelsea where it was very difficult for us to break through despite the advantage,” he said at the post-match press conference.

    “The thing is, we have the advantage, we are the favourites, but we have to play 90 minutes with the same attitude as in the first leg and with our best game.

    “We cannot hide the advantage, we hope that we will use it in the match at the highest level. We can’t think about managing the result, the minutes… You have to be on top, like at Anfield.

    Preparations for Saturday’s game were overshadowed by reports that Madrid’s board would discuss “suspicions of corruption” against Barcelona at an emergency meeting on Sunday.

    Spanish prosecutors have filed a complaint against Barcelona over alleged historic payments to former official referee José María Enriques Negreira, but Ancelotti will not be involved in the dispute.

    “Tomorrow I know that there will be a board meeting. I am contacting the club on this matter,” Ancelotti said. “It’s important, but I prefer to focus on the next game.”

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