Alves insists other Madrid are main title rivals for Barcelona
Barcelona defender Dani Alves believes Real Madrid are not their closest La Liga rivals this season
Barcelona defender Dani Alves feels that reigning champions Real Madrid are not their main rivals for the La Liga title this season, insisting Atletico Madrid pose the biggest threat.
The Catalan giants currently sit top of the table with a nine-point gap to Diego Simeone’s side, their nearest challengers, in second place.
Meanwhile, last-year’s champions Real find themselves a distant 16 points behind Tito Vilanova’s men, with any hopes of retaining their title appearing all-but over after their weekend defeat to Granada.
"People talk a lot about Madrid (Real) when our rivals are Atletico," the 29-year-old told reporters.
"We should not look to the team in third place, because there is a team in second. They are closer and, if we do not pay attention, they could surprise us."
Alves’ side fought back from a goal behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Valencia on Sunday, with the Brazilian full-back praising the efforts of his teammates as they came away from the Mestalla with a point that seemed unlikely at one stage.
"Given the circumstances of the game, we are leaving happy to have picked up something at a ground like this," he added.
"When you are not at your best, you must be intelligent - if you cannot win, you need to get a point."
Barcelona will be aiming to make it 20 La Liga wins for the season when they take on Getafe at the Camp Nou on February 10th, whilst Atletico travel to Rayo Vallecano after the international break.