Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid’s next La Liga game against Malaga is a vital one in the title race.
The Italian spoke at a pre-match Press conference on Friday and insisted he wasn’t looking ahead to the game against Barcelona, which takes place on March 23.
“All of our remaining games are equally important. The team has trained well and is focused this week,” Ancelotti said.
“I have a lot of faith in the professionalism, seriousness and character of my players. Tomorrow's match is crucial. We play a very good team who aspire to become better.
“I hope we continue with the same intensity we had against Levante.”
Madrid will be without Alvaro Arbeloa, who has a knee injury, and Ancelotti admitted the absence of the full back would be keenly felt.
He said, however, that he was confident Nacho could fill in if necessary.
“We miss Arbeloa. We miss his attitude, personality and professionalism in the field and in training.
“I’ve tested Nacho in the right back position this week. He is able to play anywhere in defence.
“Sergio Ramos is our last option for the right back position. He played there in the past but he is our last resort.”
Ancelotti was asked about comments he made comparing Isco to his former Milan charge, Clarence Seedorf, and revealed the comparison had gone down well with both parties.
The Coach used the current Milan boss as an example of Isco’s changing role in the team.
“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.”
Isco has been out of the side in recent weeks while Jese has also been starved of starts. But Ancelotti commended Jese for not kicking up a fuss.
“I speak with Jese every day. He is calm and understands the situation. People also understand that he has helped the team,” Ancelotti said.
“Jese hasn't asked for minutes. Everyone is focused and realise that they will have chances to play.”
The subject of the Clasico was raised but Ancelotti was eager to play it down, pointing to the two fixtures that precede it.
“We are not talking about the Clasico at the moment. We have to focus on Malaga and we have another match with Schalke.
“I believe that everyone, including the players, think that the league will be decided in the last round.”
Di Maria has said he would rather not be picked to play against Malaga as a yellow card would see him suspended for the Barca tie, a stance Ancelotti understands.
“I wouldn't be surprised if Di María preferred to play in the Clasico. It's the most important match,” he said when asked about the Argentine.
Madrid have a 6-1 lead against Schalke and are heavy favourites to progress to the Champions League quarter finals, where a number of Ancelotti’s former teams wait, including his previous employers, Paris Saint-Germain.
“I have a very good relationship with the players at PSG. It would be a special clash,” Ancelotti said of the prospect of facing the French side.