'It's not impossible' – Ancelotti refusing to give up on LaLiga title despite nine-point deficit

By Sports Desk March 05, 2023

Carlo Ancelotti vowed Real Madrid will not give up on chasing down Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, despite his side falling nine points adrift of the leaders on Sunday.

Madrid were held to a goalless draw by Real Betis on a potentially pivotal day in the title race, a few hours after 10-man Barcelona had battled to a 1-0 home win against Valencia.

Los Blancos still have to travel to Barca in a fortnight, but Opta's league predictor now gives the reigning champions just a 9.8 per cent chance of finishing top of the table.

After seeing his side held for a second league game running, having drawn 1-1 against Atletico Madrid last week, Ancelotti accepted Madrid have their work cut out.

"It's not impossible," he told Movistar when asked if there is any hope of catching Barca. "It will be very difficult, very complicated, but we have no doubt we'll fight until the end.

"Of course these results are affecting the team. If it doesn't then you have no room to improve." 

Madrid are without a win in three games after going down 1-0 to Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Thursday.

The European champions have failed to score in their past two games, which is as many as in their previous 39 matches.

After being unable to register a shot on target against Barca and in the first half against Betis, Madrid did at least improve in the second half as Claudio Bravo made five saves.

"It was a difficult match for us," Ancelotti added. "We know we could have done better in terms of efficiency in attack. We had opportunities but lacked efficiency.

"This is the reality. We've scored only one goal in our past three games, and it's clear to see what we're missing from set-pieces. We have the quality to be doing better.

"We know we have to improve in that regard. We know in moments like this we have to do better."

 

Karim Benzema thought he had given Madrid the lead in the 15th minute, only for his free-kick to be ruled out after a VAR check showed the ball hit Antonio Rudiger on the arm.

Madrid have now played out six goalless draws with Betis in the league this century – against no side have they done so more often – with this latest stalemate particularly costly.

Dani Ceballos, who wasted one of a few good chances that fell the visitors' way in the second half, echoed Ancelotti's sentiment that his side must keep on fighting.

"There are still games left and we are not that far away [from Barcelona]," he said. "The DNA of this club is to fight until the end. Where there is an opportunity, Madrid will fight.

"We have a very important game against Espanyol next Saturday in front of our fans. We also have Barcelona to play, so we have to do our best before the international break."

Betis fell short of registering a fourth straight league win for the first time since December 2021, but head coach Manuel Pellegrini was happy to come away with a point against his former club.

"Winning games is important, but if you can't do that then it's better to not lose," said Pellegrini, whose side are three points adrift of fourth-placed Real Sociedad.

"I think it was a fair point for both teams. There are many teams in the fight for the top four and others will also start to challenge."

Related items

  • Daniele De Rossi staying on as Roma boss Daniele De Rossi staying on as Roma boss

    Roma have confirmed that head coach Daniele De Rossi will remain in charge of the club for “the foreseeable future”.

    De Rossi, 40, who spent 18 years as a player with the Giallorossi, was appointed in January after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

    Roma have climbed from ninth to fifth in Serie A under the 40-year-old, who initially signed a short-term deal until June.

    In a statement on the club’s website, Roma owners Dan and Ryan Friedkin said: “After meeting yesterday afternoon with Daniele De Rossi, we are delighted to announce he will continue as head coach of AS Roma after this season and for the foreseeable future.

    “In his short tenure as head coach, the positive impact that his leadership has brought to the entire club has told its own story.

    “Daniele leads with respect and courage, while his strength and deep-rooted belief in the club are truly aligned with Roma’s values, city and unparalleled fans.

    “We will continue to work together as hard as we possibly can to deliver a future that AS Roma’s fans deserve.

    “We couldn’t be happier to build a long-term project with Daniele.

    “Further details to follow in the coming days.”

  • Barcelona fined for racist behaviour of fans at Paris St Germain Barcelona fined for racist behaviour of fans at Paris St Germain

    Barcelona have been fined 25,000 euros (£21,400) by UEFA for racist behaviour by their fans during the Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie at Paris St Germain.

    Three charges were brought against Barca following the fixture at Parc des Princes on April 10, which included acts of damage and lighting of fireworks.

    UEFA’s Appeals Body announced on Thursday Barcelona will be fined for the racist behaviour of their fans and will be banned from selling tickets to their away supporters for the Spanish club’s next UEFA competition match.

    That ticket ban has been suspended for a probationary period of one year, which started from the date of the present decision.

    Barcelona must also pay a 2,000 euro fine for lighting fireworks and a further 5,000 euro fine for acts of damage.

    After Barca won the first leg 3-2 in Paris, they lost 4-1 in the second leg at home this week to exit the Champions League 6-4 on aggregate.

  • Harry Kane savours Champions League ‘war’ with England team-mate Jude Bellingham Harry Kane savours Champions League ‘war’ with England team-mate Jude Bellingham

    Harry Kane is ready to go into battle against Jude Bellingham for a spot in the Champions League final before the pair aim to lead England to Euro 2024 glory.

    England captain Kane moved to Bayern Munich from Tottenham last year while Bellingham left Borussia Dortmund to join Real Madrid.

    Both helped their respective clubs to Champions League quarter-final wins over Premier League sides on Wednesday night as Bayern beat Arsenal and Real saw off Manchester City on penalties. Bellingham scored in that shoot-out while Kane netted a first-leg spot-kick at the Emirates Stadium.

    Those wins tee up a mouth-watering semi-final clash between two clubs who have won 20 European Cups between them.

    Despite Arsenal and City being eliminated, meaning the first semi-final line-up since 2020 with no Premier League clubs, Kane believes there will still be plenty of English interest in how he and Bellingham fare.

    “Jude has had a fantastic season, he’s a top player,” he said.

    “I’m really happy for him but it will be another war against his team – but that’s the experiences that we both went abroad to try to achieve, to play in these big nights in the Champions League, to play in these big semi-finals.

    “It will be one to enjoy and I’m sure there will be a lot of English fans watching both of us. We have to focus on ourselves. Of course, I’ll say hello but once we’re on the pitch, it’s business.”

    Kane is still yet to win a major trophy in his career and also has the added incentive of the Champions League final taking place at Wembley on June 1, with either Dortmund or Paris St Germain awaiting the winner of Real and Bayern.

    “For both of us, for sure,” Kane replied when asked if Wembley is the dream for him and Bellingham.

    “With Wembley being our national stadium, it’s extra motivation there for us but there are two games ahead of us before that, which are going to be really tough so we have to focus on that.

    “Real Madrid are a big club with amazing history in the Champions League so it’s going to be a really difficult game for us.

    “But that’s what the semi-finals of the Champions League are all about, the biggest teams, so we enjoy this tonight and then prepare for that game in a couple of weeks.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.