Carlo Ancelotti has warned former club Real Madrid and Clasico rivals Barcelona to expect a strong challenge from Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid in 2015-16.
The Italian was sacked at the end of last season after Luis Enrique’s Barcelona swept their way to an historic treble, but the former head coach at the Santiago Bernabeu does not believe the Catalans will be the only threat to his replacement Rafael Benitez’s title hopes.
Madrid suffered an infamous 4-0 derby defeat to Atletico under Ancelotti last season, while Simeone’s men were La Liga champions in 2013-14 and the 56-year-old is sure the Vicente Calderon side will continue to disrupt the established giants of Spanish football.
“It will be the same as the past three seasons,” he said. “This year Atletico Madrid will be very strong, they are going to be a big threat to Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“Simeone is a manager who knows how to get the best out of his players, so matching up to them on the pitch will be very difficult.”
Ancelotti also wished Benitez well for his debut campaign in charge of Madrid and again paid tribute to his former players.
“I know first hand what it is like to train Real Madrid,” he continued.
“I wish Rafa Benitez the best, I have a lot of respect for his work. I can only say that he has a great squad under his charge and that is because I was fortunate enough to coach them for the last two seasons.”
Atletico and Barcelona have secured maximum points from their first two La Liga matches this season, while Madrid are two points adrift with four.