Title-chasing Barca need one more point

by AFP on May 10, 2011

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Barcelona can wrap up a third successive Spanish league title with a point at Levante on Wednesday and then concentrate on their blockbuster Champions League final against Manchester United.

Barcelona defeated derby rivals Espanyol 2-0 on Sunday to take a giant step towards the championship and with a better head-to-head record over closest rivals Real Madrid, a draw with Levante will be enough.

"We knew we couldn't fail and now we only need a point to secure the title," said Barcelona's Spanish international midfielder Andres Iniesta.

"We are very close now and the sooner we can win the title the better.

"We can't relax, however, because there is the Champions League final to play."

Barcelona would become the first side to win three consecutive league crowns since 1993 and coach Pep Guardiola will be keen to wrap up the title to rest his weary stars ahead of the Champions League final against United on May 28.

If Barcelona win their remaining three fixtures they would notch a league-record 100 points for the season, bettering the best-ever mark of 99 points they set last season.

Real, eight points behind in second, appear to have given up hope in the title race but will not want to gift the championship to Barcelona.

On Tuesday, Madrid entertain derby neighbours Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu where anything less than victory will hand their bitter rivals the trophy.

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo scored four times in Real's 6-2 thumping of Sevilla at the weekend and is now on 33 league goals for the season.

Ronaldo tops the goalscoring charts, two goals ahead of Barcelona's Lionel Messi, and is the favourite to win the Pichichi crown for the league's top-scorer.

"The longer Barcelona need to win the league the better," said Ronaldo.

"We have to win all our final remaining games without thinking about Barcelona.

"I don't want to think about the Pichichi title as there are three games left."

Getafe are just two points above the drop zone with nine points left to play for and coach Michel, who spent 14 glorious years as a Real player, hopes to cause an upset.

"The game against Osasuna (next weekend) is a match against a direct rivals but we are not ruling out pulling off a surprise at the Bernabeu," said Michel.

Sevilla are in sixth place, occupying the final Europa League spot but have Atletico Madrid level on points in seventh spot.

Athletic Bilbao are fifth, two points above Sevilla, after a terrific campaign and hope to take another step towards Europe with a win at Deportivo La Coruna on Tuesday.

Deportivo, league champions in 2000, are just one point above the bottom three after a turbulent season.

Promoted Hercules host Real Mallorca on Wednesday needing a minor miracle to stay in the Spanish top-flight.

Hercules, 2-0 winners at Barcelona earlier in the season, are six points from safety and need to pick up points quickly to have any chance of beating the drop.

In other matches, Valencia travel to Espanyol on Wednesday trying to wrap up third place and the automatic Champions League spot.

"We have to complete all our hard work by finishing third and going straight into the Champions League," said Valencia winger Juan Mata.

"Villarreal won't make it easy for us so we have to keep on collecting points."

Valencia lie five points ahead of fourth-placed Villarreal who travel to already-relegated Almeria on Wednesday.