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La Liga Preview: Ancelotti Focuses On Defensive Problems

carlo-ancelotti-real-madridReal Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti will switch his focus to improving the European Champions’s defence after seeing his attack click into gear in stunning fashion over the last week.

Real had come in for criticism following a disappointing start to the season which saw them lose two of their opening three La Liga games, having also been beaten by Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa. However, 13 goals in their last two matches, trashing Basle 5-1 and Deportivo La Coruna 8-2, suggests Real’s star-studded forward line is beginning to fire on all cylinders.

It is still not all going perfectly to plan for Ancelotti, though, with the European champions having only kept one clean sheet in their eight competitive outings this term – and that is something the Italian wants to work on. He said ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Elche to the Bernabeu:

“I think that right now we have the same problems as last year, although our attack is better.

“Last season we had various problems; now the attack is good but we need to improve our defensive play. The result against Deportivo was very good but we have to improve a few things.”

Wounded Depor are also in action on Tuesday, and they will hope to make amends to their fans for their weekend horror show when they face arch rivals Celta Vigo at Balaidos. Celta will be no pushovers, however. They are still unbeaten this season and on Sunday held Atletico to a 2-2 draw in the champions’ back yard.

Depor stalwart Alex Bergantinos is not concerned by the prospect of his side being underdogs, though, saying in La Voz de Galicia:

“If they feel favourites, then so much the better. The last four times I’ve played them they’ve always been like that, but then we’ve had the better results (three wins and a draw).”

The top four in La Liga are all in action on Wednesday night, where leaders Barcelona will look to continue their perfect start under Luis Enrique when they go to Malaga. Barça have won all five of their competitive matches this season without conceding a goal, and Spain defender Jordi Alba admits it is nice to be on a high after the lows of the last year for club and country.

He said following Sunday’s 5-0 mauling of Levante:

“The truth is that last season wasn’t very good, either for me or for the team. After the World Cup and Luis Enrique’s arrival, we were more motivated and we’re working much harder. It’s been some time since we’ve all been so happy.”

Barça are two points clear of second-placed Sevilla, who are at home to stuttering Real Sociedad, while third-placed Atletico travel to Almeria. Level on eight points with Atletico are a surprise name, with Granada moving into the top four with their shock 1-0 success at Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.

Coach Joaquin Caparros will now hope to see his new side make further progress when they host his former club Levante, who prop up the standings after picking up just one point under his replacement Jose Luis Mendilibar. Wednesday’s other games see newcomers Eibar meet Villarreal and Rayo Vallecano host an out-of-sorts Athletic, who have lost three of their four matches.

The remaining two games are on Thursday with Valencia and Getafe – who face each other on Monday night – taking on second-bottom Cordoba and third-bottom Espanyol, respectively.