Ancelotti backs goal-starved Ronaldo; hails James; promises four more wins

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said he was not worried that Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored just once in his last five appearances.

"Cristiano is fine, he has recovered very well, was not tired, he is fresh," he said after Real's 3-0 victory over Almeria. "Today he did not score, but he tried many times to do so. He worked well, showed freshness. If he did not score today, he might score on Saturday. My personal opinion is that if Cristiano does not score from today until the end of the season I am happy. He has scored 50. I have never had a player do this in all my career."

The Italian coach was less no fulsome in his praise when asked to sum up the contribution of James Rodriguez to the game.

"James continues to show all his quality, all his ability, that he is playing very well," he said of a player who has now scored 16 goals and given 13 assists this season.

A dull game was enlivened just before half-time when Rodriguez smashed a 25-yard screamer to the top corner, and Madrid made the points safe after the break via an own-goal from visiting central defender Mauro Dos Santos and late tap-in from right-back Alvaro Arbeloa.

There was less excitement than in La Liga leaders Barcelona's 6-0 win over Getafe on Tuesday night, however Madrid remain just two points behind the Catalans with four games left to play.

The Blancos coach told his postgame news conference that he was mainly happy his team had picked up an important three points and could now begin to prepare for Saturday's likely more tricky game at in-form Sevilla.

"We did not play with much intensity or quality, but we returned after week with a lot of physical effort," Ancelotti said. "We took some air in this game, but always with the scoreboard under control. Now we have a very important period of the season. The next game is the most important. We are thinking of putting out our best team to beat Sevilla."

Madrid have now won six from six since their defeat in the Clasico at the Camp Nou in March, scoring 24 goals, conceding just four, and Ancelotti said he was sure his side would keep the pressure on the La Liga leaders by winning their remaining four games in a bid to give the team and its fans a happy end to the domestic campaign.

"We are not convinced that Barca will drop points," he said. "But we are convinced that we will win the four games we have left to play. I have no personal ambition. My cupboard is already full. But I have ambition for this club, the players, the fans."

Ancelotti also praised the effort of those squad players, including Asier Illarramendi, Keylor Navas and Jese Rodriguez, who had got rare starts as he rotated his team.

"They did all they had to do," he said. "The players not used to playing all time could have some difficulties. But I am happy with game of everyone, some players did not have great games, but they worked and put in the effort. So I am happy. I am not worried about Illarra, he played very well in Vigo. Maybe today his level was not so high, but he has the full confidence of his coach."

However all Madrid fans will be hoping that Gareth Bale's calf problem, and Karim Benzema's knee issue, clear up ahead of Saturday's trip to Sevilla, and then Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg at Juventus.

"Bale has done individual work, maybe tomorrow he will be able to work with group, we will see in the morning," Ancelotti said. "Benzema is improving, we think he will be able to travel to Turin."

Norwegian starlet Martin Odegaard spent the entire game on the bench, meaning the 16 year old must wait before getting the chance to become Madrid's youngest every player.

"As I have said, Odegaard needs to work, to train, to get used to this," Ancelotti said. "He is a very young player. Today was his first day with the match squad, on the bench. In the future he has time to make debut."