Barca in need of La Liga boost after European exit
11 April 2014, 08:12
Madrid - Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona will need to recover quickly to maintain hopes of retaining their title as they travel to Granada on Saturday just three days after being dumped out the Champions League by Atletico Madrid.
The Catalans also trail Atletico by a point at the top of the table with just six games remaining, but continue to have matters in their own hands as they meet Los Rojiblancos for the sixth time this season on the final day of the campaign.
Barca could even still win a domestic double as they also face Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday.
Midfielder Andres Iniesta was surprisingly withdrawn with half an hour still to play as Barca trailed 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon in midweek, but he insists they have no time to feel sorry for themselves.
"The substitution surprised me, but the coach is the one who makes the decisions," he said.
"The defeat shouldn't affect us. The Champions League is a wonderful competition, but you cannot win it every year.
"Now we have the league and the final of the Cup. The pain will last for today and tomorrow, but that is football and sport. We need to keep going and fight for the competitions in which we are still alive."
Real Madrid also remain in contention for the title as they lie just three points off the top in third place.
However, Los Blancos look set to be without star man Cristiano Ronaldo once more when they host Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday as tests revealed on Thursday that he has a hamstring strain that could keep him out for a couple of weeks.
Madrid held on to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League themselves on Tuesday despite losing 2-0 in the second leg of their quarter-final tie away at Borussian Dortmund.
And midfielder Luka Modric believes his side must learn from their sloppy display in Germany for what remains of the season.
"We are very happy to be in the semi-finals, but not with how we played the other night, especially in the first half. We cannot allow that to happen, we need to learn from it and improve."
Leaders Atletico are not in action until Sunday when they travel across Madrid to face relegation threatened Getafe at the Alfonso Perez Coliseum.
And coach Diego Simeone admitted that he will have to try and keep a lid on expectations after the Barcelona victory as his side have reached the last four of the Champions League for the first time in 40 years and are on course for their first La Liga title since he played for the club in 1996.
"I am happy because we made a great effort, the boys have worked very hard and created great enthusiasm and joy for the fans.
"We are desperate to keep working in the way we have until now. We haven't won anything yet. It was a very important game and it will help us to continue improving."
Atletico should be boosted by the return of top-scorer Diego Costa from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the last two games.
Simeone is expected to make a number of changes in any case to freshen up his side after the physical demands of shutting out Barca in midweek.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Osasuna v Valladolid (1900)
Celta Vigo v Real Sociedad (1400), Villarreal v Levante (1600), Granada v Barcelona (1800), Real Madrid v Almeria (2000)
Real Betis v Sevilla (1000), Valencia v Elche (1500), Getafe v Atletico Madrid (1700), Espanyol v Rayo Vallecano (1900)
Athletic Bilbao v Malaga (2000)