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Real Madrid focus on La Liga after Euro heartache
Published : 29 Apr 2012 07:16:54
Spanish hopes of a mouth watering Champions League final between Real Madrid and Barcelona evaporated this week with both sides crashing out at the semi final stage but at least Real have the consolation of being on the verge of claiming their first la liga title since 2008.
Jose Mourinho's side now prepare to face Sevilla after their elimination by Bayern Munich knowing that they need just six points more to win the league and so if they win and Barca lose against Rayo Vallecano they will be champions.
It will be a tough task for Pep Guardiola to raise his Barca side after a couple of morale sapping games where they lost any realistic hope of winning the league with defeat in the El Clasico last weekend and then followed that up by defeat by Chelsea on Tuesday night.
An impressive run had seen Barca reduce the gap at the top to four points and they knew that a victory at the Nou Camp over Real would really put the pressure on the leaders but instead their star players looked weary and they failed to rise to the occasion.
Similarly against Chelsea after a bright start where they turned the tie around to lead 2-1 on aggregate, they conceded a goal on the counter-attack and Lionel Messi missed a penalty before they ran out of steam.
The main question now at the Catalan club is the future of a project which has up until now brought an astonishing 13 trophies from 16 competitions as Guardiola is still deciding on whether to stay for another season.
He is due to make an announcement later Friday.
At the Bernabeu, though, Mourinho has already announced that he will remain and he refused to be downbeat following his side's defeat in a penalty shoot-out against Bayern.
"I am going to continue and if we keep this empathy, the club and the team have a margin to keep growing," said the Portuguese.
"We need to go out on Sunday with pride. It is disappointing to have gone out (of the Champions League) because of all the work we put in but now we have four games to finish our season and it is down to us. If we win the championship then it will have been a good season."
Real face a Sevilla side who are still aiming for a place in Europe despite an inconsistent campaign.
"We have to give everything to get the win at the Bernabeu and we have won there in the past but Real are going to be very motivated now," said Spain international Jesus Navas.
"We need to be fully concentrated on the game, forget the bad results that we have had, and we will have our chances to win."
Meanwhile there is a crunch battle for third place between Valencia and Malaga, who currently trail their rivals by three points.
"This is the most important game of the season and we know we are up against a strong side who have been well placed in the league all year," said Joaquin Sanchez.
Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid made up for Real and Barca's Champions League demise by making it an all Spanish Europa League final on Thursday.
On Saturday, a strong second half performance from unfancied Levante saw them maintain their push for a place in the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Granada.
At the other end, Racing Santander were relegated following a 3-0 defeat by Real Sociedad.
Levante, the modest side from Valencia, who are more accustomed to fighting relegation battles, have shown that their promising start to the campaign was no fluke. With just three games to play, they are joint-fourth, level on 52 points with big-spending Malaga.
Sporting Gijon showed plenty of fight with a 3-0 victory away to Espanyol, their third from four games, but Javier Clemente's side still have a lot of work to do if they are to stay up.
Villarreal drew 1-1 with an Osasuna side that could have moved into a European place with a win. Villarreal have responded well to the arrival of coach Miguel Angel Lotina and saw their unbeaten run extended to four games.
Elsewhere Mallorca came out on top 3-1 in the mid-table scrap with Getafe.
Real Madrid v Sevilla, Zaragoza v Athletic Bilbao, Malaga v Valencia, Real Betis v Atletico Madrid, Rayo Vallecano v Barcelona.