Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti on Friday blamed his side’s poor start to 2015 on a problem with their “mental state”.

After ending 2014 with 22 straight victories, a club record, Champions League winners Real began the new year by losing 2-1 at Valencia and then going down 2-0 to city rivals Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Cup.

“After the holidays we weren’t in the best mental state,” said Ancelotti ahead of Saturday’s clash with Espanol.

“We had a fantastic run of wins and then we had two complicated matches.

“For the moment we haven’t rediscovered the tempo with which we ended the year. But physically we’re in good shape.”

Ancelotti also reminded journalists that they had lost two in a row in September before embarking on their 22 match winning run.

“We have physical test results that show the team is in good shape.

“Maybe we didn’t play with the right tempo and we need to push harder, to show more intensity, but physically we’re in very good shape.”

Should Real beat Espanyol, they would secure the symbolic title of ‘winter champions’ for the team leading at the halfway stage of the season. – Agence France-Presse

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