Karanka buoyed ahead of United clash
Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka believes his team head into their UEFA Champions League clash with Manchester United in good form - and hopes the extra day's rest will be evident at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
The Primera Division champions trounced Sevilla 4-1 last night, Cristiano Ronaldo firing an ominous warning to his former club with a hat-trick, while Sir Alex Ferguson's side host Everton at 4:00pm GMT today before turning their attention to the trip to the Spanish capital.
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has, on several occasions, complained that the match scheduling has worked against his team - only last weekend he pointed out the fact his side had to play at Granada on Saturday while Barcelona faced Valencia on Sunday after the arch rivals' midweek Copa del Rey Clasico exertions.
But, ahead of the Champions League last 16 first leg, Karanka said: "Real Madrid are coming into the match in good form, and not because of (last night's) result. Apart from the match against Granada, the team has been showing good things throughout January. (Against Sevilla) we played well and have given a bit of a rest to key players and the match comes at a good time for us."
On the extra day's rest, Karanka said: "We've proven it ourselves - it does show. They have a bit of a cushion (at the top of the Premier League) and I'm sure they'll be making rotations and resting important players."
Matches against Sevilla have proved rich pickings for Ronaldo and it was no different last night as he followed up Karim Benzema's 18th-minute opener with goals in the 26th, 46th and 59th minutes as Madrid sauntered to victory.
Karanka was delighted with the form of Ronaldo heading into the midweek blockbuster with the Portugal forward's former employers. "He has had that admiration (from the fans) for a long time and he knows how important he is for the team," the Madrid number two said. "It is important that a player like Cristiano is at this level."