Barcelona midfielder Xavi has dismissed the suggestion that La Liga will be a two-horse race again this season.
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone recently labelled the division as “boring” following the dominance of the Blaugrana and Real Madrid, who have shared the last nine league titles between them.
However, with Barcelona having been forced to work hard for a 1-0 win over Malaga on Sunday night and Atletico currently boasting a 100 per cent record, Xavi feels the Catalans will have more than one challenger to contend with this season.
“I don’t believe this league is a two-horse race,” the Spain international is quoted as saying by his club’s official website.
“There are teams that will fight … Malaga proved that it’s not easy to beat anyone.
“They defended well in the first half, they were closing down our passing lanes, so we tried to play on the wings.
“They relied more on counterattacks in the s econd half but, in general, we did our work well. I’m happy.”
Neymar had been expected to start the game at the Rosaleda but he was again utilised only as a substitute, meaning he has yet to start a competitive fixture since joining from Santos this summer.
Xavi, though, feels that the Brazil international needs to be given time to settle, particularly in light of the health issues that overshadowed and interrupted his pre-season programme.
“Neymar is very young but he’s adapting perfectly,” the World Cup winner argued. “He needs to get in the rhythm of things little by little. I’m sure he’s going to be important for the team.”