Desperate Barcelona seek title race lifeline

Updated: 17 February 2012 09:30 IST

Barcelona hope that their midweek Champions League win at Bayer Leverkusen will provide the perfect platform in their desperate attempt to slash Real Madrid'd 10-point La Liga advantage.

Desperate Barcelona seek title race lifeline

Madrid:

Barcelona hope that their midweek Champions League win at Bayer Leverkusen will provide the perfect platform in their desperate attempt to slash Real Madrid'd 10-point La Liga advantage.


The Catalan side face a difficult home clash against third-placed Valencia this weekend.

Last week Barca started without Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, and a youthful looking side struggled in frosty conditions in Pamplona against Osasuna, losing 3-2.

In particular, it was the defence which was opened up too easily and centre-half Gerard Pique was left in the stands during the midweek match with Leverkusen, where they came out 3-1 winners.

"Our Champions League progress is what we need to follow in the league," said Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

"It was an important match for us to win against Leverkusen because they were difficult opposition and that shows us what we now need to do in this competition. Without doubt that would keep us going strongly in the league.

"Away from home we have not got the results we expected and that is the reason why we are 10 points behind. We cannot relax, we need to keep believing in ourselves and the results will follow.

"We still believe that we can win the league but we have to go match by match. We are in the final of the King's Cup and we hope to retain the Champions League trophy.

"Other teams know us better now and so that maybe is one of the reasons why we haven't done so well away from home. We are analysing the situation and looking to improve where we can."

Real have given Barca little margin for error having won 19 of 22 games and now play a Racing Santander in trouble without a win in four matches.

"The team is getting stronger every day. We are working hard and in good shape to win trophies this season," said Real's defensive hardman Pepe.

The teams are bunching up below Valencia with just two points separating six teams and of those Atletico Madrid, whose next game is against Sporting Gijon, are showing the best form at the moment.

They are still unbeaten in six league games under new coach Diego Simeone who has added new steel to the side.

Unfancied Levante had an excellent first half to the season but have now not won in seven matches and will hope to get back on track against Rayo Vallecano.

Espanyol, level with them on 32 points but who surprisingly lost at home to bottom side Zaragoza last weekend, now travel to Getafe.

The pressure remains on Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini, despite victory in their last match against Mallorca, as his richly-assembled squad have failed to convince.

They now face another difficult test against Athletic Bilbao who are also in the fight for a European place.

Osasuna, boosted by their win over Barcelona, will hope to add to Sevilla's problems with the Andalusian side having lost their last three matches.

At the other end of the table Zaragoza play Real Betis while Granada meet Real Sociedad and Villarreal are away to Mallorca.

Saturday (Kick-offs GMT)

Getafe v Espanyol (1700), Real Madrid v Racing Santander (1900), Sevilla v Osasuna (2100)

Sunday

Granada v Real Sociedad (1100), Athletic Bilbao v Malaga (1500), Sporting Gijon v Atletico Madrid (1700), Mallorca v Villarreal (1700), Levante v Rayo Vallecano (1845), Barcelona v Valencia (2030)

Monday

Zaragoza v Real Betis (2000)



Topics : Football Barcelona Real Madrid
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