8:39 AM ET
Real Madrid have a 15-point gap at the top of LaLiga with just six games remaining. Fran Santiago/Getty Images
Carlo Ancelotti has said Real Madrid are “close” to winning LaLiga but insisted the race “isn’t over yet” and denied that he is thinking about the opportunity to clinch the title away at rivals Atletico Madrid in next month’s derby.
Madrid are top of the table on 75 points — 15 points clear of Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, although Barca have a game in hand — with just six matches left.
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
“It’s true that we’re close to winning the league, but we still have games to play,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Tuesday ahead of Madrid’s next game, away at Osasuna. “I have too much experience to [feel like a champion]. It’s true that we’re very close and we’re doing well. But it isn’t over yet. Tomorrow is a great opportunity to get closer.”
Madrid could be crowned champions as early as this weekend if midweek results go their way — with Atletico Madrid hosting Granada, Sevilla visiting Levante and Barcelona away at Real Sociedad — but there’s also the tantalising possibility of winning the league against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano on May 8.
“The count we do is quite simple,” Ancelotti said. “It’s getting three points against Osasuna, then getting three points against Espanyol, and if we need more, getting three points against Atletico. I’m not a mathematician, I prefer history.”
Ancelotti said Luka Modric will not face Osasuna due to tiredness, while Casemiro is unavailable with a minor injury. However, Karim Benzema, who has scored 15 goals in his last 10 games, will play.
“When a player is okay, they don’t need to rest,” he said. “He isn’t tired, he doesn’t have a strain, so there’s no sense in not picking him. He’s in form and I’ll pick him tomorrow.”
The Italian wouldn’t be drawn on whether winning his fourth Champions League as a manager or becoming the first coach to win Europe’s “big five” leagues (Spain’s LaLiga, England’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1) would be a greater achievement.
“I’ve been lucky to coach at great clubs to have this type of opportunity,” he said. “Napoleon said he preferred lucky generals to generals with quality.”