Barca aim to turn screw on suffering Real
After notching a record-breaking 52 points at the half-way stage of the season, champions Barcelona are in the box seat to win a third consecutive Spanish league title, holding a four-point lead over rivals Real Madrid.
Barcelona have won 13 league games in a row with their last loss in the championship back in mid-September and aim to continue that sequence with three points at home to Racing Santander tonight.
“Maybe you could say four points is a good lead with another team, but if there is a team that has lots of lives it is Real Madrid and that advantage is nothing,” said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola, who turned 40 on Tuesday, watched his side surrender their 28-game unbeaten run in all competitions with a 3-1 King’s Cup second-leg loss to second division Real Betis on Wednesday, although their 5-0 first leg win saw them reach the semi-finals of the tournament.
“This loss was a real lesson for us,” said Brazilian defender Adriano.
“However, it wasn’t down to a poor attitude or tension, it was just they scored two early goals.”
Real Madrid, four points behind Barcelona in second, can’t afford many more slip-ups if they are to overhaul their rivals and hope to maintain their perfect home record with victory over Real Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu tomorrow.
Real, who saw off Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the King’s Cup quarter-final on Thursday, dropped two crucial points in a 1-1 draw with bottom side Almeria last weekend and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo has set the lofty target of winning the remaining 19 league games.
“If we win all our games in the second half of the season we will be champions,” Ronaldo said.
“Real can’t go another season without winning a title.”
Ronaldo has 22 league goals this season to top the charts but the club are desperate for another source of goals with Gonzalo Higuain out injured for four months.
Real boss Jose Mourinho has a recognised striker in Karim Benzema, but the French international has yet to win his coach over and the club have openly been trying to sign a forward this month with former favourite Ruud van Nistelrooy, now at Hamburg, the preferred choice.