Carlo Ancelotti backed his Real Madrid team to compete with Barcelona for the LaLiga title, despite a 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad which left them five points behind the league leaders.
Madrid were the better side at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, creating a number of chances, but were unable to take them with La Real goalkeeper Alex Remiro saving three times from Vinicius Junior.
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The result -- which followed Barca's 1-0 win at Girona on Saturday -- left Madrid on 42 points, five behind Barca and three ahead of Sociedad in third.
"If we win on Thursday [against Valencia], we'll have more points than we did [at this stage] last season," Ancelotti said in his post-match news conference. "It's a long season.
"January has been a difficult month but the team has grown a lot in every aspect, defensively and offensively, and physically. We can stand up to the battles of the next few months."
Ancelotti was bullish about his team's performance against their chasing rivals, despite failing to take all three points.
"It was one of the best games we've played this season," Ancelotti said. "It was hard to make substitutions because everyone was playing well.
"Real Sociedad never played how they wanted to. We pressed them high, we were intense, we were good with the ball and committed without. We were a bit unlucky."
Barcelona travel to Real Betis on Wednesday before Madrid host Valencia a day later, after which both teams will be exactly halfway through the season having played 19 of 38 games.
Ancelotti confirmed that Madrid would be doing no last-minute business in the transfer market, saying their window was "closed in every sense, for exits and arrivals."