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‘Barca are not direct rivals now’ – Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that Barcelona are not direct rivals for the La Liga title this season.

The Catalan giants parted ways with several key players over the summer. Lionel Messi’s free transfer exit was obviously the major setback for the Blaugrana.

They have since been under transition. Ronald Koeman was sacked after a poor run of results. Xavi has now been tasked with turning around the club’s fortunes.

Xavi recently said that the Blaugrana are still in the race for the league crown, but Ancelotti feels Sevilla and Real Betis are their direct rivals instead of the Catalan club.

He told reporters: “Barca are not direct rivals now because there are other teams closer like Sevilla or Betis.

“But they have the quality to move up the table and if I were Barcelona’s coach, I would say exactly the same as Xavi.”

Football Today verdict:

Madrid have been in stunning form, and they have dropped just nine points thus far. They are cruising at the top of the table with 42 points, eight ahead of Sevilla.

By contrast, Barcelona are languishing in the seventh spot, already 15 points adrift of Los Blancos. It is highly unlikely that they will cut the staggering gap.

There is plenty of the season left, but Ancelotti’s side look unbeatable at present with a seven-match winning streak.

They look good value to sustain their advantage during the back end of the season. The onus is on Sevilla or Betis to keep up the pressure with regular wins.

Meanwhile, the Blaugrana have a realistic chance of breaking into the Champions League places, with Atletico Madrid losing their way with back-to-back losses.

Only two points separate them from Atletico in fourth. Xavi will be hoping his players can find the consistency to push for a top-four finish to the campaign.

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