MADRID - Leaders Barcelona could
effectively wrap up the title by beating arch-rivals Real Madrid
at the Bernabeu next weekend, Pep Guardiola said on Saturday.
The champions came from behind to see off basement side
Almeria 3-1 in a nervy display at the Nou Camp where two goals
from Lionel Messi helped them maintain their eight-point
advantage over second-placed Real.
Earlier, Jose Mourinho's team eased to a 3-0 victory at
Athletic Bilbao but with seven matches left to play starting
with next Saturday's 'clasico', time is running out if they are
to deny Barca a hat-trick of La Liga crowns.
"It is a unique opportunity to strike a decisive blow,"
Guardiola told a news conference.
"If we lose (at the Bernabeu) Madrid will only be five
points behind us with six left to play. The league will be very
"We need to play this match the same way we did last year or
even the year before. They are a team with a great
counter-attack, a large squad, many different options and with
the ability to play in many different ways," added Guardiola.
"We'll have to make a huge effort to convince the players
they need to go and win. My experience of the Bernabeu is it
puts you under a lot of pressure. As far as I know there has
never been a 'decaffeinated' Madrid-Barca game."
Next Saturday's match could be the first of four meetings in
18 days with a King's Cup final on April 20 and a strong
possibility of the two clubs clashing again in the Champions
League semi-finals on April 27 and May 3.
Mourinho, in his first year at Real, is seeking to end an
impressive run of five consecutive wins by Guardiola in Madrid v
Barca clashes since he took over at the Catalan club in 2008.
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