Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti thinks Barcelona are rediscovering their identity as they make a comeback from a slow start to the new season.
Barca sit seventh in LaLiga, five places – but just two points – behind Ancelotti’s Real Madrid as the pair prepare for a Clasico showdown on Sunday.
Ronald Koeman, who seemed on the brink of an exit earlier in October, has been under pressure after a mixed start to the LaLiga term while losing consecutive Champions League group games for the first time since 2000-01.
However, an improvement in recent weeks has, at least temporarily, kept Joan Laporta from dismissing Koeman, and Ancelotti – who has never won an away game against Barca in five attempts – insists the Blaugrana are on their way back.
“It is a team [Barca] that is coming back in the sense that it has had many problems, but little by little it is finding its identity and is improving,” Ancelotti told Madrid’s media.
“It is not important how a team gets to this type of game but what kind of game it can get.
“It does not matter how it gets there if not what is done on the field. All these games are like this.”
Despite Ancelotti’s poor away record, Madrid may travel to Camp Nou as favourites, given Barca have failed to win any of their last four games against Los Blancos.
Indeed, Koeman has lost his first two LaLiga Clasico fixtures – only Patrick O’Connell between 1935 and 1940 was defeated in all his opening three matches of the famous fixture as Barca manager.
As Madrid look for their fourth consecutive win against Barca in all competitions, only winning more in a row in 1965 (seven), Ancelotti hinted his defence will be key against Koeman’s side, who have scored in 34 of their last 35 top-flight home games.
“For our team the most important thing is always to defend well, both with a low, medium and very high block,” he continued.
“Defending well is the key to everything. All the games in which we have finished with a clean sheet we have won.
“The problem for this team is not scoring goals, but not conceding. Therefore, most of the time I try to focus on this.”
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