League beyond Madrid, says assistant coach Karanka
MADRID (AFP) –
Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka on Saturday admitted that Los Blancos have very little chance of retaining their league title despite their great form of late.
Madrid reduced the gap on Barcelona at the top of the table to 13 points with a 2-1 win over the Catalans last weekend, but Karanka insists that catching Atletico Madrid — who remain two points ahead of Real — is now their priority.
“The league is practically impossible and we need to fight for second place,” he told reporters.
“We need to keep picking up points though as leaving the league to think about the other competitions is dangerous.”
Madrid’s progression to the Copa del Rey final and Champions League quarter-finals over the past 10 days has once again led to questions surrounding manager Jose Mourinho’s future.
The Portuguese appeared set to leave at the end of the season after a number of clashes with senior players this campaign, but many in Madrid are now harbouring hopes that he will stay.
“The feeling he transmits to me is that of working towards the next game,” said Karanka.
“I haven’t asked him, nor does it interest me what he is going to do. In his head there isn’t anything other than Real Madrid and the next game.”
That next game for Madrid is away to relegation threatened Celta Vigo on Sunday evening and Karanka admitted that Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao could be rested after their hectic schedule of late.
“Every team we pick is with the intention of winning. The one that goes out tomorrow will be no different,” he added.
“It is also true though that Varane, Ramos and Coentrao have played all the games recently and they deserve a rest. And there are also players who deserve to play.”
Pepe and Marcelo are therefore likely to come back into the defence, but Angel di Maria has been ruled out for two weeks with a hamstring problem.