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 Posted by Dermot Corrigan
Mar 14, 2014

Ancelotti hints at deeper role for Isco

Carlo Ancelotti believes the battle for Spanish League title will go down to the last game of the season.

Carlo Ancelotti has hinted that Isco could get a chance to impress in a deeper midfield position in Real Madrid's La Liga trip to Malaga on Saturday.

Isco celebrates after opening the scoring for Real Madrid against Athletic Bilbao.
Isco has struggled to impose himself at Real Madrid after moving from Malaga last summer.

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The former Malaga playmaker has been a peripheral figure over recent months at Madrid, while Ancelotti spoke out in February about how Isco is unhappy given the current 4-3-3 shape does not particularly suit the 21-year-old's strengths.

But the Italian coach told his pregame news conference at Friday lunchtime that Isco could be converted into a more rounded midfielder, just as had happened under his guidance with Clarence Seedorf at AC Milan.

"There is more important defensive work in this position," Ancelotti said. "I have spoken with Isco about the comparison with Seedorf.  I also spoke with Seedorf who was happy as he knows Isco is a great player.

"He can play there no problem he can help the team here. [Angel] Di Maria was also not used to the position, just a few games with his national team. But he got used to it, and has been playing very well."

The issue is particularly important at Madrid just now as regular first-choice Di Maria is just one booking away from a ban, and spoke last week of his concern over missing out on March 23's looming clasico against Barcelona at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu -- though Ancelotti may still pick the Argentina international.

"There is no game more important than any other," Ancelotti continued. "Tomorrow's game is the most important at the moment. I will put out the best team possible for it.

"A player can always pick up a booking and miss a game. I have confidence in the other players in the squad. I know if Di Maria will play tomorrow, but I will not say it."

The former Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain manager said it was vital neither he nor his players looked too far ahead so as not to slip up.

"Everyone knows that tomorrow is an important game, as is the game the next Sunday [clasico]," Ancelotti said. “We are not talking about the Clasico at this moment. We also have the game against Schalke in Europe next Tuesday.

"There is no problem about this, the team are very focused on this game. Our destiny is in our hands. We need to manage it well, the little advantage that we have."

Ancelotti also said the team was also capable of handling the loss of Alvaro Arbeloa, who is set to miss six to eight weeks with a knee-injury.

"We will miss Arbeloa, his attitude in training, his professionalism on the pitch," he said. "We will miss him, as we are missing [Sami] Khedira. This week we have worked with Nacho [Fernandez] at right-back.

"He can play there, he has the quality to play right across the defence. Sergio Ramos is also a final option there, he has played well there in the past."

Even though Madrid have a three point lead over Atletico Madrid and four point advantage over Barcelona, Ancelotti maintained there was still a long way to go yet in the title race.

"We have spoken about the feeling that tomorrow is a very important game," he said. "We must prepare for it very well, against a team who have played well in their last games.

"They won at Osasuna, and will have confidence to improve. The players are in agreement that La Liga will only be won in the final game of the season.

"We must continue with the attitude and intensity and concentration we had against Levante.”

Jese Rodriguez and other squad members all knew they could yet have important roles to play, Ancelotti said.

"I have spoken every day with Jese," he added. "He is relaxed and understands the situation. He does not ask about it, he is relaxed, focused like everyone else.

"All players must be ready as they could play just one minute in our coming games, but that could be the most important minute of the season. The players understand that."

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