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Clash with Girona ‘won’t decide title’ – Madrid boss Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has denied that Real Madrid‘s top-of-the-table clash with Girona on Saturday will decide which team wins the LaLiga title, but said Madrid will have to be at their best against a side who “have done better than anybody” this season.

Madrid go into the high-profile game at the Santiago Bernabéu top of the table on 58 points, but just two clear of Girona after a 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid in last weekend’s derby.

Stream LIVE: Real Madrid vs Girona, Saturday 2/10, at 12:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN+ (U.S.)

“Obviously if we win tomorrow, we’ll have the advantage,” Ancelotti said at a news conference on Friday.

“But the season is still very long. We’re well positioned, and so are Girona. Tomorrow’s game won’t decide anything. The league won’t be decided tomorrow, whatever happens.

“We have high points totals, us and Girona. The sooner you get to 80 points, the closer you are to winning [the league]. You haven’t won the league if you get to 80 points but you’re very close.”

Madrid defender Antonio Rüdiger is facing a last-minute fitness test ahead of the match after he went off injured against Getafe last week.

With fellow centre-back Nacho Fernandez also out with a muscle strain, Ancelotti said Madrid’s centre-back pairing would consist of the out-of-position Dani Carvajal and Aurélien Tchouaméni if Rudiger isn’t fit.

“Rudiger trained today for the first time and he felt good,” Ancelotti said.

“Tomorrow we have time for another test. If he feels good and at his best, he’ll play, and if he doesn’t, we won’t risk it. It’s a part of the body where there isn’t much risk, but it depends how the player feels.”

Ancelotti confirmed that Vinícius Júnior — who dropped out of the starting eleven against Atlético Madrid with neck pain — is available to face Girona, while defender Nacho is expected to return on Tuesday in the Champions League.

The experienced Italian coach was asked about blue cards after the news that they are set to be rolled out as part of a trial for “sin bins” in top-level football.

“The idea I have in general is to simplify the rules as much as possible,” Ancelotti said.

“I don’t know if [blue cards] simplify the referee’s job or not. The rules are more complicated every year. I don’t know if a blue card makes a referee’s job more simple, or more difficult.”

Ancelotti was also questioned about Girona left-back Miguel Gutiérrez, the Madrid youth product who has been key to the Catalan side’s title charge. Madrid retained a share of his rights — and an option to bring him back to the Bernabéu — when he left for Girona in 2022.

“Every player in this situation is evaluated every day, every week,” Ancelotti said.

“Miguel has progressed a lot. This experience with Girona has been good for him, he’s playing well, and in the summer we’ll take a decision together with Girona and the player.”

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