Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes his side are fully prepared for “el clasico” next week after they maintained their three-point lead atop the Primera Division.
• Rigg: Points over performance
Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half goal gave Real a narrow 1-0 win in Malaga on Saturday night as they extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 30 matches, but sterner tests lie ahead this week.
While only a miracle would deny the Spanish giants qualification to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, as they currently lead 6-1 in their last-16 clash with Schalke after the first leg, their next assignment in the league is against fierce rivals Barcelona.
In the reverse fixture, the Spanish champions became the last team to beat Real after recording a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou on Oct. 26, but Ancelotti is confident his side can earn revenge next Sunday at the Bernabeu after seeing them go on a magnificent streak since then.
“This team is playing consistently,” he said. “There are matches in which we have to play to different strengths. Our players' attitude in defence was great and they worked hard. I think we are ready to play the ‘clasico.’”
Ancelotti was pleased to walk away with all three points at La Rosaleda on Saturday, with Ronaldo firing home a low strike after beating three Malaga defenders in the 23rd minute.
Real could not kill the game off, however, and were given a few nervy moments late on, but managed to keep a clean sheet to claim all three points.
“This was a very good and important result because winning here wasn't easy but we managed to do it,” Ancelotti said. “We had plenty of chances to kill off the game but were lacking in terms of the final ball.
“It was a normal game against a very motivated side, like all the teams are at this stage of the season. We also have to praise Malaga. They played a good match in which they put a lot of pressure on us and worked really hard.
“You can't always win 2-0 or 3-0. I am happy because the team was solid, had a good attitude and worked hard together, which is a good thing.”
There was a slight concern for Real when Karim Benzema was withdrawn after half an hour, but Ancelotti later confirmed the France international was simply suffering with a knock.