Ancelotti relieved as Madrid fight back on eve of decisive week
Carlo Ancelotti credited Real Madrid's powers of recovery after Saturday's 3-1 win over Espanyol, as Los Blancos prepare to enter a decisive week with a spring in their step.
Madrid appeared in danger of losing more ground on LaLiga leaders Barcelona when Joselu put Espanyol ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu, but the champions responded well to cut the gap to six points.
Vinicius Junior arced a fine strike into the bottom-right corner to level, before Eder Militao's header put Madrid on top and Marco Asensio made the points safe at the death.
Madrid have now claimed 10 points from losing positions in LaLiga this campaign – a tally only bettered by Girona (12).
With the second leg of their Champions League tie against Liverpool and a huge meeting with Clasico rivals Barcelona to come in the next eight days, Ancelotti knows Madrid had no margin for error.
"The matches are all difficult, whoever the rival is," he told Movistar. "We needed the three points, a very important week begins now with the Champions League and the Clasico.
"The beginning was not very spectacular, then we came back, we controlled it well, it was a good game. We needed to win, we won, and now we go for the next one.
"We arrive in a good mood, hopefully we can prepare well for Wednesday's game [against Liverpool], which has many traps, and they must be avoided."
Madrid hold a handsome 5-2 advantage over Liverpool at the halfway point of their last-16 tie, having become the first visiting team to score five goals in a European game at Anfield last month.
While the European champions are heavy favourites to reach the last eight, Ancelotti says last year's quarter-final tie against Chelsea – in which Madrid squandered a 3-1 first-leg lead before triumphing 5-4 on aggregate – should serve as a warning.
"I think we had an experience last year with Chelsea where it was very difficult for us to get through despite the advantage," he said at his post-match press conference.
"The fact is that we have an advantage, we are favourites, but we have to play 90 minutes with the same attitude as the first leg and with our best performance.
"We cannot hide the advantage, hopefully we will take advantage of it with a match at the top level. We can't think about managing the result, the minutes... You have be at your best, like at Anfield."
The build-up to Saturday's game was overshadowed by the revelation that Madrid's board would discuss "suspicions of corruption" regarding Barcelona at an urgent meeting on Sunday.
Spanish prosecutors have filed a complaint against Barcelona over alleged historic payments to former refereeing official Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, but Ancelotti would not be drawn on the controversy.
"Tomorrow I know there is a board meeting. I refer to the club on this issue," Ancelotti said. "It's important, but I prefer to focus on the next game."