Real Madrid’s top-of-the-table clash with Girona this weekend will not be a title decider, insists Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti.
LaLiga leaders Real are two points ahead of second-placed Girona, who have defied the odds to emerge as genuine contenders in just their fourth-ever season in the top flight.
Michel’s side would leapfrog Madrid back into pole position with victory at the Bernabeu Stadium, but Ancelotti said Saturday’s showdown will not be decisive.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 9, 2024
The Italian told a press conference: “Whoever wins will gain the advantage, but there is still a long way to go in the league.
“Both teams are very well positioned and the game won’t decide the league, but (the winners) will have an advantage over the others.
“I don’t think the league will be decided no matter what happens. Both teams have high points and the sooner we get to 80 points, the sooner we can win the league.
“You don’t win the league with 80 points, but if you get close as soon as possible, you’re very close.”
Girona finished 10th in LaLiga last season after winning promotion via the play-offs under head coach Michel in 2022 and have beaten both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in this campaign.
Ancelotti said: “It will be a demanding match against a team that has done better than everyone else, including Real Madrid.
❝Leaving the Bernabéu leaders would be very special for us.❞#RealMadridGirona
— Girona FC (@GironaFC_Engl) February 8, 2024
“It’s going to be tough, they’re doing very well. We have a lot of respect for them, while we are confident of winning again after drawing.”
Girona boss Michel will be absent from the Bernabeu dugout as he starts a two-match touchline ban after his red card in the closing stages of last week’s 0-0 home draw against Real Sociedad.
The Catalan club will also be without defender Daley Blind and midfielder Yangel Herrera through suspension.
On Michel’s absence, Ancelotti added: “Football is about the players, but the coach’s presence gives confidence to the team.
“However, it’s not a determining factor. It’s not decisive because football is about the players.
“Sometimes we coaches get carried away a bit in protest, but we need a bit more understanding because of the circumstances we’re in.
1⃣4⃣ goals each in LALIGA this season.
They face off in MD24 pic.twitter.com/DxmhFW6nrS
— LALIGA English (@LaLigaEN) February 9, 2024
“A little more understanding could allow him to be at the Bernabeu on Saturday.”
Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger faces a late fitness test after missing last week’s 1-1 derby draw against city rivals Atletico due to a thigh injury.
Vinicius Junior (neck/shoulder) was an unused substitute against Atletico but will be in contention and Ancelotti confirmed defender Nacho (thigh) is hoping to be back for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 clash in Leipzig.