thumbnail Hello,

The Italian says he has been surprised by the Portuguese's professionalism since his arrival in Spain and says he prefers Angel Di Maria to Mesut Ozil

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes it is Cristiano Ronaldo's time to win the Ballon d'Or this year, ahead of Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery.

The Portuguese star has played second fiddle to Barcelona ace Messi since winning the prize for the first time back in 2008, with the Argentine claiming the last four titles in a row, but Ancelotti believes he deserves to win the latest crown for the all-round impact he has on the Spanish giants.

"It's Cristiano's moment to win it ahead of Messi and Ribery," Ancelotti told TV programme El Larguero. "He has surprised me the most with his professionalism. He's very serious, he has amazing attention to detail. It's that which helps us the most - he doesn't just score."

Ancelotti went on to explain his decision to allow Mesut Ozil to join Arsenal this summer, claiming he prefers Angel Di Maria for the balance he brings to the team alongside €100 million signing Gareth Bale.

"It was a technical decision [to sell Ozil]," he continued. "I prefer Di Maria for the balance of the team.

"He has less quality than Ozil but, for his character and the way he helps the team, I wanted him. With the arrival of Bale I thought it was more important to have Di Maria than Ozil.

"[Bale] wasn't cheap but that's the price of the market. It was the wish of the player that brought him here. Tottenham offered him more money."

Bale has struggled with injuries in recent weeks, but Ancelotti feels he is now fully fit and could start the Clasico against Barcelona this weekend.

"Since he's been here, he has not had a back problem. The problem was his physical condition, as he hadn't trained. Now he's good, he's ready to play from the start. He could start against Barcelona.

"I asked him and he told me he prefers to play from the right. I think he likes playing from the right so he can shoot from his left foot."

Iker Casillas started the Champions League win over Valencia, but Ancelotti hinted that Diego Lopez will keep his place for Saturday's clash - though he insisted the club captain does not want to leave the club in January.

"It's a question for Iker, but I don't think he thinks like that," he said when asked if the Spain veteran would ask for a move.

"I have spoken with him to explain the situation. When he wants to talk to me, my door is always open. For a coach, to explain the situation is the most difficult.

"I already knew Diego Lopez. In 2006 I wanted to bring him to AC Milan… He started before the pre-season and was very strong. It wasn't an easy decision. Casillas gives me confidence and so I play him in the Champions League, these games are as important as La Liga.

"He is the captain, he has a lot of experience and he maintains the harmony in the team. Iker wants to stay at Madrid and this is good for us. But I've made my decision."

Finally, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss claims his side will face a tough challenge against a confident Barcelona side this weekend, and added that he is closer to Vicente del Bosque as a coach than Madrid predecessor Jose Mourinho.

"Barca play with a lot of confidence because they've changed practically nothing," he added. "When Mourinho was here there were problems but they played fantastically there [at Camp Nou]. I will try to play like the semi-final of the Copa del Rey last year, the 3-1, and not change anything.

"I'm closer to Del Bosque than Mourinho."

Related

From the web