Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova made a tacit dig Tuesday at his Real Madrid counterpart Jose Mourinho by claiming that if Barca were 18 points behind their fierce rivals as Real are, he himself would be out of a job.
"If the situation was the reverse, I would not be here to answer that question," said Vilanova, whose side are flying high at the top of the Spanish league, unbeaten with 18 wins and a draw.
At the mid-point of the season, title-holders Real are 18 points behind Barca in third place and riven by reports of dressing-room squabbles that have raised speculation about Mourinho's future at the club.
Atletico Madrid are in second place, 11 points behind Barcelona who have made their best ever start to a league season.
Vilanova promptly toned down his stance later in Tuesday's news conference, however, acknowledging that the league was not over yet.
"Real Madrid are capable of winning all the return games and we may lose those points. It is not as though there are just four matches left," he added.
"What's more, the Champions League and the (Spanish) Cup games we are going to play tire you out a lot."
Barcelona host Malaga on Wednesday in the first leg of the quarter finals in the domestic King's Cup.