Real Madrid went into last Sunday’s Clasico against Barcelona aiming to land a decisive blow in the title race, but a week later they take on Rayo Vallecano with serious questions over their own La Liga credentials, Reuters.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side followed up their controversial 4-3 defeat at the Bernabeu with an away loss to Sevilla on Wednesday, leaving them third in the standings and three points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and two adrift of Barcelona.
Able to brush aside weaker sides, Real have picked up just three points from away games against Sevilla, Atletico, Barca, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal among the stronger sides in the league, casting doubts over both their tactics and mentality.
“Obviously it is more difficult now. We are behind but it is not impossible,” Ancelotti told reporters as he reflected on the back-to-back losses.
“It will affect us and it is a bit strange. I have said a lot of times that the difficult moment would arrive and here it is.
“We need character and personality from everyone so that we can respond quickly. It is tougher now as all the games are important.”
Despite closing the gap at the top, there is a sombre mood at Barcelona ahead of their derby with Espanyol following news that keeper Victor Valdes suffered a torn knee ligament in the midweek win over Celta Vigo and will miss the rest of the season.