Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has said it is impossible to keep FIFA president Sepp Blatter quiet, while backing Blancos talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to win this year's Ballon d'Or award.
On Monday, Blatter claimed that Germany and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer should have won the Golden Ball prize awarded to Lionel Messi as FIFA's best player of the tournament at last summer's World Cup.
This has been taken by some as Blatter suggesting that Neuer now deserves to win the 2014 Ballon D'Or award, which FIFA also co-organises, and which current holder Ronaldo is hot favourite to retain this year.
Ancelotti told a news conference that Blatter was always making surprise statements, but it was clear that his player's goalscoring exploits, as well as contributions to last season's Champions League and Copa del Rey victories, left no room for debate.
"It always surprises me what he [Blatter] does, but what are we going to do," Ancelotti said. "It is impossible to shut up the FIFA president. This is a matter which is always talked about. It is Cristiano's year, he is scoring goals and winning important trophies, so there is no doubt that he is the Ballon d'Or. So [Blatter's] words do not make much sense."
Ancelotti was speaking ahead of Madrid's Copa del Rey last 32 first leg at third tier Cornella, and confirmed that Ronaldo and six other starters from last Saturday's 3-1 clasico win over Barcelona would be rested.
The starting XI for Wednesday evening's game will be Keylor Navas, Alvaro Arbeloa, Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez, Raphael Varane, James Rodriguez, Sami Khedira, Asier Illarramendi, Isco, Javier Hernandez and Karim Benzema. The Italian coach admitted he was using the game to give minutes to some squad players, while saying his aim remained to retain the title won in a clasico final against Barca last year.
"It is a competition where we have had a lot of success, and we have good memories of it," Ancelotti said. "We will try and do the same from today's game. We need to play a serious game and keep our run going. And also to give playing time to those who have played less so they can improve their physical condition. We have watched [Cornella] but do not know too much about them. For them it is the game of their lives."
Ancelotti denied that Gareth Bale's continuing absence was due to the same long-standing back issue which meant he could not put together a long string of consecutive games.
"That is not true," he said. "He has had an unusual muscle injury. We will see if he is okay for next week, for the game against Liverpool. We do not yet have a set date for his return."
Pushed as to whether Bale could regain a starting place given the form of local favourite Isco, Ancelotti reminded everyone of the Wales international's exploits during his first year in Spain.
"I can only field 11 players," he said. "I will have to think about it. Bale is an important player. He scored in the Copa final, and the Champions League final. There is no set starting team at Madrid."