Madrid: Barcelona captain Carles Puyol believes that his side have in no way given up on their chances of retaining the Spanish La Liga title.
Barcelona may have only lost one game this season, but their 1-1 draw away to local rivals, Espanyol on Sunday night means they have slipped five points behind Real Madrid in the race for the Spanish league title.
That means even if Barcelona defeat Real Madrid in the league in the second half of the season, they need Madrid to drop more points against other sides and the fate of the title is no longer in their hands.
Given that apart from their defeat at home to Barca, Madrid have only dropped five points in 16 games, it is hard to see where Barca's rivals could slip up, but with over half of the season left to play, Puyol feels the Catalan club are still in the hunt.
"We knew that we were going to have little margin for error. Five points are a lot and Madrid are doing very well, but we are going to give everything to be the champions. It is a challenge for us to beat Madrid," Puyol was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Barcelona could have won Sunday had referee Turienzo Alvarez given them an injury time penalty following a clear handball from Espanyol defender Raul Rodriguez, but Puyol preferred not to dwell on the refereeing error.
"What we have to do is concentrate on our job. We can't do anything about referees, it is really hard to referee a game and if he didn't give the penalty, it is because he didn't see it. We are not going to start thinking that they do things like that on purpose," he commented.
Puyol also spoke about coach Pep Guardiola, who was named best coach of the year by FIFA Monday and Lionel Messi, who was awarded the Ballon d'or in the same event.
The Barca captain highlighted the importance of Guardiola to Barcelona's success, while adding the Messi could go on to break all the records of the game.