Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid are “clear favourites” for the LaLiga title after their convincing 2-0 El Derbi win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
LaLiga leaders Madrid moved 13 points clear of fourth-placed Atleti as goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio stretched their unbeaten league run over their city rivals to 11 games.
It was Madrid’s seventh consecutive top-flight win and lifted them seven points clear of Sevilla, although Unai Emery’s team do have a game in hand.
Asked about his impact on his team’s fine run, Ancelotti told a media conference: “I don’t think it’s the Ancelotti effect; I have a team that leaves me calm because of what they do on the field.
“They handle the game very well and they have defensive commitment. It’s a team, not just high-quality players, and that’s the difference.
“We are clear favourites [for the title] because we have done very well, better than others, but we are focused on the next matches because a mental downturn can cost us dearly. This is the only way to get closer to winning.
“Of the team I really like the defensive aspect; it is the one that we have improved the most since the beginning of the season.
“We are more solid. Although the pressure is not too high, with a lower block we use the forwards for the counter-attacks.”
Ancelotti was fulsome in his praise of Luka Modric after another supreme display from the veteran midfielder.
The Croatia international made a joint-team high three interceptions and completed 90.1 per cent of his passes, with his all-round display leaving his boss purring.
“I have congratulated him on the game because he was incredible,” Ancelotti added.
“I don’t know what I said, but he was spectacular with and without the ball. It was extraordinary.
“He had a spectacular game, with personality and character. He is an extraordinary player.”
Both of Madrid’s goals were created by Vinicius Junior, with the Brazil international becoming the first player to provide two assists in a LaLiga clash between Madrid and Atleti in the 21st century.
“He is improving himself,” Ancelotti explained. “I don’t talk to him much because I don’t have much to say to him; he just needs to make it effective.
“I tell him he doesn’t have to dribble to do it. You have to do something to help the team and he has made two assists that have helped us win the game.”