Ancelotti pleased with season progress but acknowledges there is still a long road ahead

Real Madrid’s head coach, Carlo Ancelotti, is well aware of how far they still have to go to reach their goals this season. With Los Blancos hosting Villarreal at the Bernabeu Sunday, the pressure is on to maintain their spot at the top of LaLiga, especially with surprise leaders Girona not playing until Monday night.

Having secured passage to the Champions League knockout stage with a perfect group record, Ancelotti is focused on the last two games before the Christmas break. “We want to finish the first half of the season strongly,” he stated at a press conference. “We’ve done really well so far. We’ve managed the first part of the campaign well, despite all the problems we’ve had.”

Ancelotti’s current deal runs through the end of the season, and he has been linked with a switch to take over Brazil’s national team, but for now, he’s fully concentrated on his current role. “Being Real Madrid coach is the most important thing,” he said. “I hope the players will give me a Christmas present by winning the last couple of games so we can have a relaxed festive period.”

Additionally, goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is fit again after a thigh injury, and Ancelotti has a tough decision ahead of him as he selects the starting lineup. “I have decided (who will play against Villarreal), but I haven’t spoken to them yet. I want them to hear it from me before finding out in the press,” he said. “The good thing is that they make it hard for me because they are both in such great form.”

On the opposition side, Villarreal head coach Marcelino, who recently returned to the club, is well aware of the challenges of facing Real Madrid. He knows they’ll have to try to shackle England midfielder Jude Bellingham if they want to leave the Bernabeu with a positive result. “He is the player who has given the best performance in all of Europe,” Marcelino said at a press conference.

“We will try not to let him get involved too much. It will be difficult because he has a lot of participation in most of the pitch, especially in the final third. He is accompanied by players of great quality like Rodrygo. We are going to need to be strong collectively to reduce their influence on the game.”

With Villarreal putting up a good fight against Real Madrid, it’ll be an exciting game to watch as the two teams battle it. And with Ancelotti at the helm, Real Madrid supporters and neutrals alike will be keeping a close eye on the outcome. Whether he stays with the club for the long term or not, there’s no doubt that for now, all focus is on a successful season ahead.

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