Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has insisted his side's meeting with Malaga on Saturday is of vital importance as it looks to maintain its three-point lead at the top of La Liga.
Los Blancos could move six points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid before their city rivals kick off against Espanyol later in the evening.
Madrid are looking to continue to fight on three fronts, as they look a certainty to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League and will meet Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final in April, and Ancelotti believes all of his side's upcoming matches are crucial.
“All of our remaining games are equally important. The team has been training well and is focused this week,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“I have a lot of faith in the professionalism, seriousness and character of my players. Tomorrow's match is crucial. We are up against a very good team."
Ancelotti will be without defender Alvaro Arbeloa, who has been ruled out for the next two months with a knee injury, and the 54-year-old admitted the Spain international will be missed throughout his recovery.
However, the coach said he is confident 24-year-old Nacho could prove a suitable replacement.
“We miss Arbeloa. We miss his attitude, personality and professionalism in the field and in training. We tested Nacho in the right back position and he is able to play anywhere in defense.
“Sergio Ramos is our last option for that position. He played there in the past but he is our last resort.”
The former PSG and AC Milan boss then went on to discuss Isco, whom he has recently compared to former Real Madrid and Netherlands maestro Clarence Seedorf.
“We have to help Isco adapt to his new position. I've spoken to him and he was happy I compared him with Seedorf.
“Seedorf liked that I compared him with Isco as well. I think he can play in this position and help the team.
“It was the same for [Angel] Di Maria who wasn't used to playing in his new position but he is doing well now.”
Angel Di Maria recently admitted he would like to sit out this weekend's match in order to avoid the risk of picking up a yellow card which would see him ruled out of next week's meeting with Barcelona.
“I wouldn't be surprised if Di Maria preferred to play in the Clasico. It's the most important match," Ancelotti said.
As Real holds a 6-1 lead over Schalke heading into the second leg of their Champions League clash next week, Ancelotti was asked about the prospect of facing his former team PSG in the quarterfinals, to which he replied:
“I have a very good relationship with the players at PSG. It would be a special clash."
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