MADRID: Carlo Ancelotti has fired a warning shot to Real Madrid’s rivals, claiming they are even stronger than they were last season ahead of Saturday’s La Liga test at Levante.

The European champions lost two of their opening three league matches, but have put their slow start firmly behind them, winning their last six consecutive matches in all competitions.

Cristiano Ronaldo is La Liga’s top scorer with 13 goals, and the Portuguese will be looking to add to his tally at Levante, against whom he has seven in his last five outings.

“The only problem is that we have conceded more goals than normal, but in terms of our play, we’re better than last year,” Ancelotti told the club’s official website. “We had some difficulties at the beginning because August was difficult, as there were players coming back from the World Cup and they did not have time to prepare. Now we’ve had time to prepare and the team is in good shape, motivated and up for it.

“It isn’t easy to score so many goals, but these players have incredible quality in terms of scoring goals and attacking well. It’s always a collective effort, but the quality of the three up front is unique in the world.”

The game at 17th-placed Levante begins an important week for Real ahead of a UEFA Champions League tie at Liverpool on Wednesday and a clash with league leaders Barcelona three days later.

Barça are currently four points ahead of Real and will be looking to maintain that advantage by winning at home against newly-promoted Eibar. Eibar, who sit ninth in the table, have enjoyed an impressive start in the top tier and Barcelona defender Jordi Alba insists the Catalans must put thoughts of next week’s heavyweight clash to one side.

“We have to think about Eibar first because if we don’t win but Madrid do, then they’ll just be a point off us,” Alba told Barcelona’s official website. “Eibar are having a great season since being promoted to the first division.

“I like the way they play football. They have had some very good games away from home.”