Di Maria: Madrid keep closing the gap

Angel Di Maria has underlined the importance of Real Madrid’s 5-0 win over Valencia on Sunday as they closed the gap on arch-rivals Barcelona to 15 points.

The Liga leaders were beaten 3-2 by Real Sociedad on Saturday, and Madrid took full advantage of the Catalans’ loss as they recorded a comfortable away win over Valencia, scoring five goals in a first-half onslaught.

“It is an important win and means that we keep closing the gap,” the Argentina international was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.

“It was a match that we made easy for ourselves. We did things well from the start.

“It was important to keep our winning streak going. There are some matches that are difficult and others that are easier, but this time we had a great match.

“We went out to press forward as we have been doing lately and we got a lot of goals.”

Real Madrid remain third in the table with 40 points from 20 games.

Allegri: It's difficult to talk percentages on a Kaka move

AC Milan trainer Massimiliano Allegri says he is unsure of the likelihood of pulling off a sensational swoop for former Rossoneri star Kaka.

The Brazil international spent six years with the 18-time Serie A winners before joining Real Madrid in 2009, where he has enjoyed mixed success.

“It is difficult to speculate on the percentage for Kaka, but as a coach I look at this issue with great interest,” Allegri told Rai Sport.

The 45-year-old also spoke about bringing lifelong Milan fan Mario Balotelli to the club, as well as the possibility of making other signings.

“Balotelli is a Manchester City player, and I have not spoken with Roberto Mancini about him, and I think he still has continuing and important qualities,” said the former Cagliari coach.

“I do not think there is the need for reinforcements in defence: Mexes’ [own-goal in Sunday’s Serie A win over Bologna] was a simple accident, which occurred after a positive performance, and we have many good players in that department.

“I think a coach, like a business leader who has people under him, needs to know how to wait patiently for the results of the work.”

Karanka calls for consistency following Real Madrid's 5-0 thrashing of Valencia

Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka has spoken of his delight after his side returned to winning ways in La Liga with a 5-0 demolition of Valencia on Sunday.

Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring after nine minutes before Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo each grabbed a double to leave Madrid cruising.

“During this season Mourinho has explained several times that we are trying to improve,” Karanka told reporters after the match.

“Everything we do is to improve and it seems that we are on a good path. We have to continue this way.

The 39-year-old went on to assess his side’s chances against the same opposition in the upcoming Copa del Rey second-leg tie between the two teams.

“In Valencia we showed what we can do,” the 39-year-old continued. “Now, the cup will be totally different. Wednesday will be different and the fans in the Mestalla will be even more with their team.

“Our mission is to bring us closer to what we did last year [in winning La Liga].”

The former Athletic Bilbao defender then critiqued the performances of Iker Casillas and Di Maria, two players who have both been on the receiving end of criticism in the press in recent times.

“What Di Maria had could not have been physical but rather a psychological click. We expected him to return to be the same as always. Tonight we saw the Di Maria we all know and want to see.

“The debate [about] Casillas has not existed amongst the [Madrid] coaching staff,” he added.

Valencia 0-5 Real Madrid: Blancos produce flawless display to obliterate sorry hosts

Real Madrid were in imperious form as they brushed aside a lacklustre Valencia side to charge to an extremely impressive 5-0 win at Mestalla.

Following Barcelona’s defeat on Saturday, Jose Mourinho’s side took their chance to close the gap emphatically as five first-half goals saw them breeze past los Che.

Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring in the ninth minute before Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo widened the gap with two goals in quick succession.

Another two strikes in four minutes before the break, Ronaldo adding his second before Di Maria matched him, secured all three points in a dominant display.

Valencia started the game brightly but it was to the visitors that the first chance fell, and it was one that really should have been put away. Alvaro Arbeloa’s pinpoint cross picked out Higuain, but the Argentine failed to hit the target from 10 yards out after seven minutes.

But two minutes later Higuain did not make the same mistake, expertly firing the ball into the back of the net from Di Maria’s cutback, finishing off a brilliant counterattack.

After a high-tempo start the game descended into a relatively scrappy affair in which neither side could develop a stranglehold on possession.

That all changed soon enough, though, as los Blancos bagged four more goals before the break in a flurry of action.

Firstly, Mesut Ozil set Ronaldo through on the left and the Portuguese turned Ricardo Costa inside-out before drilling the ball across the goalmouth for Di Maria to add a simple finish at the back post.

Two minutes later Madrid found the net again, but this time Ronaldo went it alone. There was little Victor Ruiz could do to stop the powerful forward from latching onto Fabio Coentrao’s through-ball, shifting the ball onto his left foot, and slamming an effort in at the near post.

Four minutes before the break the visitors grabbed their fourth as Di Maria’s cross was laid off with an exquisite touch from Ozil and Ronaldo rifled in an emphatic cross-goal finish.

Yet there was still time for another and Ozil was again the creator, spotting Di Maria‘s surging forward run and picking him out, enabling the Argentine to slot comfortably past Alves when one-on-one.

A small number of fans made for the exit before the break but there were signs of life from Valencia in the second half.

Pablo Piatti rattled the bar with a quality left-foot shot that had the beating of Casillas before Adil Rami’s header was cleared off the line by Coentrao in the 52nd minute.

Ernesto Valverde’s men continued to create opportunities to save some face, but Tino Costa and Jonas were both unable to really worry the keeper with a pair of efforts each.

Thus Madrid were able to cruise for the rest of the game, safe in the knowledge that they had cut the gap to league leaders Barcelona to 15 points. Valencia will not have to wait long to try and gain their revenge as the pair meet again in the Copa del Rey in midweek, though they will need to improve vastly.

Ozil: I want to end my career with Real Madrid

Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil has claimed that we would be happy to finish his career with the Spanish giants.

Los Blancos have endured a difficult season to date, with Jose Mourinho coming under fire from fans and some sections of the press after a number of disappointing results.

However, the Germany international is very content with life at the Bernabeu since moving to the Spanish capital in 2010.

“Madrid is a fantastic city, I’m really happy here,” the 24-year-old told Bild. “I know the club has great confidence in me and I have many friends here, like Sergio Ramos and Benzema.

“I want to play here for many more years yet. I’d like to end my career at Real Madrid. Mourinho is the best coach in the world.

“The media have no idea about what really goes on. Things quite often get blown out of proportion. We have a good laugh in the locker room. The only thing I care about is that we respect each other, and we do.

“After three years at Real Madrid I’m more mature, more consistent and I’ve earned my place in the starting line-up, though many thought I wouldn’t make it. I’m proud of myself.”

Jose Mourinho has come under fire from the press and fans in recent weeks, but Ozil says he enjoys working with the former Inter boss.

“Mourinho knows what I’m capable of and we talk a lot. He is straightforward and honest,” he continued.

“He usually gives me instructions in Spanish. If I don’t get it right away, he’ll explain again in English. And if I still don’t get it, his assistant tells me in German.

“I trust Mourinho and I want to pay him back by playing well. I’ve always wanted to train with Mourinho, even before I came to Real Madrid.

“I need to create more goalscoring opportunities and score ten goals for Real Madrid. I know I can do it. I was top scorer with the national team in 2012.”