Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes the best way for his side to prepare for Sunday’s crucial La Liga clash with Barcelona is to produce another commanding display when they host Schalke in their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.
The Spanish giants are all but guaranteed their place in the quarter-finals after winning the first leg 6-1 in Germany three weeks ago.
Ancelotti admitted that advantage will allow him to rest a few of his star names, but wants to ensure Real continue their 30-game unbeaten run in all competitions stretching back to October.
“We are going to make some changes just because we had a very physically tiring game on Saturday night,” the Italian said at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
“We had to travel and so to help everyone recover well we will give some players a rest tomorrow.”
Karim Benzema will definitely miss out after suffering a bruised thigh in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Malaga and Gareth Bale looks set to start on the bench as Ancelotti confirmed that Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata would partner Cristiano Ronaldo in attack.
However, Ancelotti, who was won the competition twice as a coach with AC Milan, warned his players against slacking off with the Barcelona game in mind.
“The team is in good shape and is capable of playing a good game. That is what we have to do for many reasons because it is a Champions League game and we need to keep our good form going.
“The best way to prepare for the game on Sunday is to play well and gain even more confidence.
“We need to prepare well for every game. We played very well in the first leg and we have the desire to do so again tomorrow.”
Jese has made a big impression in his first year in the first team at Madrid, scoring five times in six games in late January and early February.
His playing time has since been limited by Bale’s return to fitness and the 21-year-old is determined to make the most of a rare outing in the Champions League.
“They are all great players and are playing very well. When I get my chance I just have to do my best to help the team.”
Ronaldo will have Lionel Messi’s record of 14 Champions League goals in one campaign from 2011/12 in his sights as he already netted 11 times in just six European appearances this season.
And Jese believes he can learn a lot from the Portuguese’s dedication.
“It is a spectacular record, but it doesn’t surprise me because working with him day-to-day you see how hard he works to continue improving. I am sure he will continue doing many spectacular things.