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Carlo Ancelotti urges Real Madrid to beat Barcelona and move closer to title

SoccerNews in La Liga 20 Apr 2024

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Carlo Ancelotti has urged Real Madrid not to pass up the chance to edge closer to the LaLiga title with an El Clasico victory over arch-rivals Barcelona.

The sides meet at the Bernabeu on Sunday with leaders Madrid eight points clear of second-placed Barca and acutely aware of just how significant a win could be with just seven games of the season remaining.

Ancelotti told a press conference: “If we manage to win it, we’ll be within touching distance of LaLiga.

“We’re playing against highly competitive opposition who have played brilliantly in recent games. It will be a hard-fought and evenly-matched Clasico, as they always are.

“It’s a great opportunity to move closer to the LaLiga title, but we know how difficult it will be because Barcelona are still very much in it.”

Ancelotti’s men are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions culminating in Wednesday night’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory at Manchester City which booked their place in the Champions League semi-finals.

They have lost only once in the league all season – in September – and even the hugely-experienced Italian is excited at the prospect of what lies ahead.

He said: “We’re doing a fantastic job. The cake is ready, out of the oven and all we have to do now is ice it this month. It’s a decisive month and we’re heading into it in a great position.”

Ancelotti has a near full complement of players from which to pick from with only defender David Alaba currently not on the training pitch.

Barca will run out in Madrid still licking their wounds after Tuesday night’s Champions League exit at the hands of Paris St Germain, and knowing they will have to do something special to reel in the leaders.

Head coach Xavi told a press conference: “For us, it is the most important game of the season. We have to win and put pressure on the leaders. We are going to try to compete and win at the Bernabeu.

“We will find a strong Madrid, and even more so after eliminating the best team in the world, (Manchester) City. Euphoria will be through the roof and they are a very strong rival.

“Today we trained well; yesterday we were hungover from the Champions League. The team has all the enthusiasm in the world to fight for this league.”

Xavi has immense respect for Madrid’s efforts to date, but knows his side are not far behind where it was at the same stage last season before going on to win the title.

He said: “We have all the respect in the world for Madrid and their numbers are extraordinary – ours too because we have only four points fewer than last season.”

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