Barca guarding against complacency in title push
27 April 2015, 10:35
Madrid - Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has stressed his side won't take their eye off the ball despite having a comfortable run-in to the end of the La Liga season as they chase a fifth title in seven years.
A 2-0 win over local rivals Espanyol on Saturday ensured Barca maintained a two-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the table with just five games remaining.
However, whilst Real have to face Champions League-chasing Sevilla and Valencia in the coming weeks, four of Barca's last five games come against sides in the bottom half of the table, starting with the visit of Getafe on Tuesday.
"Whether the run-in is easier or not is in theory, but you need to show that on the field," said Enrique.
"Who would have thought we would take one point from two games against Malaga? We will continue to approach all the games until the end of the season in the same way.
"I don't see why the players are going to change now. I am not worried that they will get complacent, the professionals are the ones most aware of how difficult it is to beat any opponent."
Goals from Neymar and Lionel Messi at the weekend took Barca's star front trio of the Brazilian, Argentine and Luis Suarez to within three of a century of goals for the season.
And they could easily reach the 100 mark against a Getafe side that has picked up just one point in three games since putting a healthy distance between themselves and the relegation zone.
Thomas Vermaelen could even make his Barca debut nine months after signing from Arsenal as he was given the medical all-clear from a hamstring injury for the first time this season on Sunday.
The Belgian's return means Enrique has a fully-fit squad to choose from and is likely to make a number of changes with one eye already on next week's Champions League semi-final against Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich.
Madrid kept the pressure on Barca as they came from behind to win 4-2 at Celta Vigo on Sunday in a hugely entertaining game.
Los Blancos would win the title should they win all five remaining games and Barca drop any points thanks to their better head-to-head record with the league leaders.
"At the moment we are not thinking about other teams, but about what we have to do," said Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti.
"If we win all five games we force Barca to win all of their games, so that is the objective for us."
Ancelotti will have to do without the suspended Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal for the visit of relegation-threatened Almeria to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
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The Italian will also be without Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in attack through injury, although the Welshman is hopeful of returning for the weekend visit to Sevilla.
Atletico Madrid can move a step closer to sealing third place and an automatic return to the Champions League next season when they travel to the out of sorts Villarreal.
Villarreal are the only side to have beaten Atletico at the Vicente Calderon in La Liga this season, but haven't won in nine games in all competitions.
Sevilla and Valencia will also be confident of victory in their battle for fourth place as they visit Eibar and Rayo Vallecano respectively.
At the bottom, Cordoba need to beat Levante to maintain any realistic hope of avoiding the drop after just one year back in the top-flight, whilst Elche can move closer to survival when they host Deportivo la Coruna.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Barcelona v Getafe (1800), Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad, Levante v Cordoba (2000)
Eibar v Sevilla, Real Madrid v Almeria, Celta Vigo v Malaga (1800), Elche v Deportivo la Coruna, Villarreal v Atletico Madrid (2000)
Rayo Vallecano v Valencia (1800), Granada v Espanyol (2000)