Despite their troubles in the Champions League, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has reminded his squad that Barcelona has been “amazing” in LaLiga.
Barcelona are on the danger of being eliminated from the Champions League after a 3-3 draw at home against Inter Milan on Wednesday, but they enter Sunday’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu as league leaders, unbeaten in the top level.
Xavi’s team has only conceded one goal all season in LaLiga and leads Real Madrid on goal differential, with both teams locked at the top of the table with 22 points.
“We’re looking at a team that has won all of their LaLiga games after drawing their first one; they have extremely excellent league form,” Ancelotti said at a press conference on Saturday.
“They have performed admirably from the competition’s inception. They had problems in the Champions League, which is common in that league, but they have been brilliant in LaLiga.”
The coach recalled last season’s 4-0 loss to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu, when he used Luka Modric as a false nine in the absence of striker Karim Benzema.
“It’s true that I tried to invent something last year and paid the price for it,” Ancelotti admitted.
“The game from last year will have no bearing on us since this is a new season, a new Clasico. We’re excited to play this game, which the entire world will be watching.”
Ancelotti said that goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has returned to training after suffering sciatica but will not play in the Clasico, while Antonio Rudiger will play with a protective mask.
The German defender received a terrible face injury in the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk, where he scored a last-minute goal but collided heads with the opposing goalkeeper.