Team ready for key part of season, says Real Madrid’s Solari

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Madrid, Feb 3 (IANS) Real Madrid’s head coach Santiago Solari discussed the team’s upcoming strong matches, adding that the squad was ready to effectively handle them.

Over this month, Real Madrid is scheduled to take on nemesis Barcelona twice in the Copa del Rey semi-final on February 6 and 27. Between both legs, Madrid will play Atletico Madrid in the La Liga and then Ajax in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16, reports Efe news.

“We got used to it. The team is very familiar with this stage of the year. First we have to reach this period of the season to be able to compete at the three tournaments,” Solari told the media.

Halfway through the first half of the season, Real Madrid held as low as the ninth spot in the La Liga table after their heavy 1-5 defeat to Barcelona that cost coach Julen Lopetegui his post.

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But under Solari, Real Madrid has worked its way back into the top five and was now third with 39 points, but it trails leader Barcelona by 10 points after 21 matches into the season.

“We already won the FIFA Club World Cup. And to the ongoing three competitions, we arrive in a good shape, with energy and all the squad is available except for Vallejo, who is about to return,” Solari said, adding that his team will take on the upcoming opponents with cool heads.

Vallejo sustained a hamstring injury during a training session on January 14 and has been on the sidelines since then.

When asked about his plans for the key part of the season, Solari said: “We look at the long and medium run. The short as well, the immediate and the past to learn from the mistakes and strengthen virtues. But step by step, and we have to channel our energy where it is handy.

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“Tomorrow (Sunday) we have a very important match for us against a team that will not make things easy for us and we have to approach the game with the same focus of last week’s match against Espanyol or the previous against Sevilla,” he added.

Since losing 0-2 to Real Sociedad on January 6, Real Madrid has been on a three-match winning streak in La Liga.

–IANS

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