Carlo Ancelotti confident of success in 2014 World Cup
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted his side are still very much in the La Liga title race as they moved back to within five points of leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with a 3-2 win away to Valencia on Sunday.sports Updated: Dec 23, 2013 08:31 IST
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted his side are still very much in the La Liga title race as they moved back to within five points of leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with a 3-2 win away to Valencia on Sunday.
Valencia put up a strong fight as they levelled twice through Pablo Piatti and Jeremy Mathieu to cancel out efforts from Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, Jese Rodriguez struck the all-important winner 10 minutes from time to keep Madrid within sight of the leaders.
"Five points is not a small gap, but we had a lot of pressure before this game when we were eight points back so it is a very important win.
"I am satisfied with how the first-half of the season has gone and I am very excited for 2014. The team has character, quality and fights until the end.
"At the moment the table speaks for itself. Barca and Atletico are doing very well and have a five-point lead, but I am very excited for the second part of the season. It could be a very good year for Real Madrid."
It was a particularly good evening for Di Maria as he made his claim for a regular starting spot in the absence of the injured Gareth Bale with the opening goal and an assist for Ronaldo's headed second just before half-time.
The Argentine international has been linked with a move away from Real after seeing his opportunities limited by Bale's arrival, but Ancelotti stressed the importance of having competition within his squad.
"Di Maria deserves to play in this team, as do many other players. I can't keep everyone happy all the time.
"It is good that when their opportunity comes that they are concentrated. Competition for places at a big club is normal and I think the players are handling the situation well."
Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino also hailed the depth of his squad as the Catalans came from 2-0 down to beat Getafe 5-2.
Pedro Rodriguez hit an eight-minute hat-trick just before half-time as he ensured Barca weren't to miss the absent Neymar and Lionel Messi.
The winger was also involved in both Barca's goals after the break as he crossed for Cesc Fabregas to volley home the fourth before Fabregas converted from the penalty spot after Pedro had been brought down inside the area.
"Pedro has a great eye for goal, everyone in Spain knows that," said Martino.
"He has a great attitude, he never gives up and he understands that he is an important player, even if he does play in an area of the field where Barcelona have other great players."
On top of the absent Neymar and Messi, Martino was also missing the injured Victor Valdes and Xavi.
And despite his delight at his side's response from 2-0 down, Martino is looking forward to having all four available again come January.
"I miss the absent players when we win as well as when we lose. I prefer for them to be playing and for the other players to be giving me a headache about not playing. It's better when you have everyone available and can chose."