Carlo Ancelotti does not see Barcelona as Real Madrid’s direct rivals this season because they are too low down the table.
The Camp Nou side sit seventh in La Liga after 17 matches, trailing leaders Madrid by 15 points after eking out a win against Elche on Matchday 17. Real Madrid plays a day later.
Despite his side’s struggles this term, Barca coach Xavi insists they are still in the fight for the Spanish league title, but Ancelotti is not worried about losing out to their Clasico counterparts.
Asked about Xavi’s comments at a press conference on Saturday, Ancelotti says the likes of Sevilla and Real Betis pose more of a threat than Barcelona.
“Barca are not direct rivals now, because there are other teams closer like Sevilla or Betis,” he said.
“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.”
What next for Real Madrid and Barcelona?
Ancelotti’s men are on a 13-game unbeaten run in all competitions, having won each of their last 10.
They sit eight points clear of second-placed Sevilla in the Spanish top-flight, though Julen Lopetegui’s team has a game in hand.
Madrid will take on Cadiz in La Liga on Sunday, but will be without several players because of an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the squad.
Barca, meanwhile, stopped a three-match winless streak in all competitions with a dramatic 3-2 win over Elche at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Ansu Fati, Pedri, Memphis Depay and Sergi Roberto all missed out because of injury, while Gerard Pique was suspended for the clash.