Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has praised city rivals Atletico de Madrid ahead of the derby this weekend, saying he didn’t think La Liga would be a three-horse race.
In a wide ranging interview with Canal Plus, Ancelotti said Diego Simeone’s side had shown a lot of character and fighting spirit, and the league race will go right down to the wire.
He added that in any other league in Europe, with 60 points after 25 games, Atletico would be top of the table. In Spain, they find themselves in third place, three points behind their city rivals, and below Barcelona on goal difference.
“It’s a very interesting League campaign, very exciting,” Ancelotti stated, before adding “there are three brave, strong sides battling for the title. It’s a surprise because I thought that it would be between Barcelona and Madrid but Atletico are doing a fantastic job.”
Speaking about the game itself, he said Los Blancos would take heart from the two recent Copa del Rey matches between the sides, which they won 3-0 and 2-0 respectively. Real have to be on their guard though, as they lost in La Liga to a Diego Costa goal at the Santiago Bernabeu back in September. “Both of those games gave us confidence because in the League derby, we had problems,” Ancelotti said.
The Italian also had warm words for Tata Martino at Barcelona, who has come under fire this week followed their shock 3-1 reverse at Real Sociedad last weekend.
“I like him, he’s doing well. His character is similar to mine,” Ancelotti noted. “He doesn’t look for problems. His job isn’t easy because Barca are used to a strict style of play which has given them results.”