MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead
of this weekend's matches:
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has told his players to
forget this week's controversial Champions League clash at arch
rivals Real Madrid and concentrate on Saturday's La Liga match
at home to mid-table Real Sociedad.
"We have to remember that a large part of the league title
is at stake at a stadium which is very tough," Guardiola told a
news conference on Friday, two days after the ill-tempered
semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu, which Barca won 2-0.
"If we don't focus all five senses we won't manage it," he
added. "Mathematically we are seven points from being league
champions and each win you get is a huge step."
Barca have 88 points from 33 matches, eight ahead of
second-placed Real with five games left, and are closing in on a
third straight Spanish league title and possibly a points tally
that will exceed last year's record total of 99.
If they avoid defeat at Sociedad's Anoeta stadium, they will
equal the Basque club's La Liga record of 32 matches without
losing set in the 1979/80 season.
Guardiola decided to rest captain and central defender
Carles Puyol, who has only just returned from injury, for the
match in San Sebastian, while midfielder Andres Iniesta has a
calf strain and was also left out of the squad.
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, La Liga top scorer
with 31 goals, picked up a couple of knocks on Wednesday and his
fitness will be assessed again on Saturday, Guardiola said.
Eric Abidal is still recovering from surgery on a liver
tumour, and fellow defenders Maxwell and Adriano and forward
Bojan Krkic are unavailable due to injury.
Mourinho will also rest some of his first-choice players
for Real's game at home to struggling Real Zaragoza, when
the King's Cup they won against Barca in Valencia last week will
be presented to the home fans.
Forward Cristiano Ronaldo and midfielders Xabi Alonso and
Lassana Diarra were left out of the squad, while midfielders
Sami Khedira and Fernando Gago are out injured.
Villarreal, six points behind Valencia in fourth, need to
pick themselves up for their game at home to Getafe on Sunday after they were thrashed 5-1 at Porto in Thursday's first
leg of their Europa League semi-final.
"We are a professional team and we are already thinking only
about recuperating physically and mentally," coach Juan Carlos
Garrido told a news conference after the match.
"We have to deal with the reality of this result with the
necessary maturity," he added. "That's the first step needed so
that we can confront the team's immediate future with optimism."
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