Barcelona wants to continue pressuring Real atop La Liga
MADRID - Reuters
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against Real Zaragoza during a La Liga game.Barcelona looks to continue pressuring La Liga leader Real Madrid as the Catalan giants meet Getafe tonight.
Barcelona’s pressure might be boosted tomorrow as Atletico Madrid meets Real Madrid.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone is just the man to exploit Real Madrid’s ragged nerves as his side will try to end a 13-year winless run against their more illustrious neighbors tomorrow.
Simeone, often described as playing with a knife between his teeth when he captained Argentina, has brought some of his uncompromising tenacity to Atletico who have lost only once at home since he arrived in the winter break.
La Liga leaders Real, on the other hand, will have their nerves on edge after seeing a 10-point lead over Barcelona cut to four in the space of three weeks. Their latest slipup was a 0-0 draw at home to Valencia on Sunday.
“Perhaps we were a little anxious and rushed when making the final pass,” said Real director Emilio Butragueno.
“Wednesday’s game will be vital for us to get some breathing space,” added the former Real forward known in his playing days as the Vulture. “There is no let up, we have a terrible month in front of us.”
While Real have drawn three of their last five league matches, a Lionel Messi-inspired Barça has won nine on the trot.
Real is chasing its first league title since 2008 and has 79 points after 31 games. Barça has 75 and is seeking its fourth straight La Liga crown.
Jose Mourinho’s side, on paper, has a tougher run-in, with further trips to play Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona on April 21.
“After drawing against Valencia, we have to win at the Calderon,” Real defender Raul Albiol told reporters.
If Real and Barça finish the season level on points the head-to-head results between them would decide the title, as happened when Fabio Capello’s Real won in 2007.