Carlo Ancelotti wades in on growing criticism of Xavi and Barcelona

  • Barcelona are nine points adrift of leaders Girona in La Liga title race
  • Reports of unrest behind the scenes have dominated headlines in Spain
  • Ancelotti backs Xavi despite managing rivals Real Madrid
Ancelotti spoke highly of Xavi
Ancelotti spoke highly of Xavi / LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has leapt to the defence of Barcelona counterpart Xavi after coming under fire from the Spanish press.

Barcelona's chances of retaining their La Liga title are fading quickly - they sit third in the table and are nine points adrift of surprise leaders Girona. Xavi has at least guided Barca to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since the 2020/21 season, though they have been handed a tough draw in the last 16 against Italian champions Napoli.

Reports from Spain have claimed Xavi's methods and public comments are being questioned by Barcelona's hierarchy, though club president Joan Laporta has outwardly maintained his support for the former midfielder.

During a recent press conference, Madrid boss Ancelotti was asked about the criticism Xavi has received of late.

"In general, it's normal for a coach to have criticism," Ancelotti said. "We have to accept it and then everyone can choose the criticisms that they consider fair and unfair.

"The judgment of the coaches is only based on the results. No one cares about the coach's methodology or ability to manage the locker room. It's only if he wins or doesn’t win and Xavi knows this very well. For me, he is a great coach."

While Xavi's Barcelona are currently way off the pace in La Liga, Ancelotti's Madrid are only two points behind Girona. Their season has largely centred around the scoring exploits of summer signing Jude Bellingham, who has grabbed 17 goals and five assists in 20 games across all competitions.

Madrid have also benefitted from larger home crowds again as renovations at the Santiago Bernabeu near completion, while Barcelona's average attendance has nearly halved after temporarily moving from Camp Nou to the Estadi de Montjuic.