Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti expects Barcelona to bounce back from their poor start to the season under new head coach Xavi.
Xavi has been tasked with leading embattled LaLiga giants Barca out of their difficult period after his appointment as Ronald Koeman’s replacement at Camp Nou.
Barca are 10 points adrift of Madrid after squandering a three-goal lead as Celta Vigo secured a dramatic 3-3 draw in the 96th minute on Saturday, while Ancelotti’s league leaders edged Rayo Vallecano 2-1.
Ancelotti was asked about the return of Barca great Xavi to the Catalan giants – who are ninth in the standings – following Madrid’s victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“Obviously I don’t want to talk about Barcelona. I know they’re in a tough situation, and I’ve said that on more than one occasion because I have a lot of respect for them as a club, and I respect Xavi as well,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“I wish him the best because I can’t say anything personally if Barca have any issues or not, but they have more than enough quality to get out of this tough situation.”
Ancelotti added: “It’s a surprise that we’re 10 points clear of Barcelona, but I think Barcelona can very easily get back into the title race because the season is very long.
“And as I said, this is a very competitive league. You don’t need 100 points to win this division. You need many less because it’s that competitive.”
Madrid continue to set the pace after Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema guided Los Blancos past Rayo in the Spanish capital.
Benzema has reached 10 goals in 11 of his 13 seasons in LaLiga (10 in 2021-22) – only Lionel Messi (15) has scored 10-plus goals in more campaigns in the competition in the 21st century than the Frenchman.
Madrid duo Benzema (10) and Vinicius Junior (seven) have scored 17 goals in LaLiga this term, a figure only surpassed by Bayern Munich (19) pair Robert Lewandowski (13) and Serge Gnabry (six) in the five major European leagues.
“I saw a team that played very well. For about 80 minutes, I think we played very well,” Ancelotti said of his team’s win. “We had a lot of chances and I think we had to score one more to kill off the game and we still kept creating chances and that third goal didn’t come. And then when Rayo scored, we had a few minutes of fear.
“I haven’t really got any other word to describe it, and we suffered, but I think we have to analyse everything as a team, and we suffered later on in the game. But we played very well during the majority of the match.
“We also did miss in front of goal, which is something that we don’t normally do. It’s something very strange that, for example, Karim [Benzema] misses in front of goal, but he scored a second, so he made up for that.
“But overall, I am happy because we picked up the three points and we got three points as well against a Rayo side that play well, they press well, they’re very good playing out from the back. And we tried to be very dangerous on the counter when we had the possibility to, but I think the game was maybe over in the 80th minute. It was maybe one of our best performances of the season, but we had to work hard at the end.”