Carlo Ancelotti has hit back at Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho for suggesting that Real Madrid are underperforming under him.
Los Blancos will head into this weekend’s round of matches placed third in La Liga with 70 points from 30 matches, three points off the pace.
This comes after Real suffered two successive defeats in the space of just four days.
First, the Spanish giants went down 4-3 at home to Barcelona in the Clasico last Sunday, and then on Wednesday they let go of a one-goal lead against Sevilla to stumble to a 2-1 loss at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville.
The results allowed Atletico Madrid to go a point clear at the top league table, while Barcelona leapfrogged Real into second.
Mourinho, who won La Liga with Real in 2011-12 during his three years as manager at the Santiago Bernabeu, took a dig at Ancelotti prior to the game against Sevilla.
“I’m surprised,” the 51-year-old Portuguese told Eurosport. “I expected Real Madrid to be higher up, with more of an advantage. Barcelona have dropped far more points this season than in the previous three years.”
Now, Ancelotti has now retaliated, taking an ever so sly dig at him for failing to retain the championship with Real last season.
“It's his opinion,” the Italian told reporters. “I think that Real Madrid is fighting for La Liga this season, something it was unable to do last year. Let's just say that.”
Ancelotti was alluding to the fact that by January last year, Real had already pretty much relinquished their chances of successfully defending the championship.
The Spanish club eventually ended up 15 points behind champions Barcelona and were at one stage in danger of losing second place to their city-rivals Atletico.
This season things are much closer and with eight more rounds of matches left in La Liga, the title is set to go down to the wire.
Will Real Madrid recover from successive defeats and win La Liga?