Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola insisted on Friday that his team are not yet out of the Spanish league title race, despite being seven points adrift of leaders and nearest rivals Real Madrid.
"The competition still has a long way to go," he told a news conference, before adding his side face a must-win game against Real Sociedad at home on Saturday.
"Climbing seven points is hard, climbing more is even harder. I will not let the squad drop its guard," he added.
Real Madrid have dropped just eight points all season and if the gap opens any further it would be almost impossible for Barcelona to win the title.
Guardiola has had to include B-team players in recent matches because Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Ibrahim Affelay and Andreu Fontas are all injured.