Football: Robson hopes for title boost

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Bobby Robson, the Barcelona coach under heavy pressure from both press and fans, hopes to conclude a successful week with victory in tomorrow's Spanish league match against Espanyol.

Robson's side knocked rivals Real Madrid out of the Spanish Cup on Thursday, but are still five points adrift of them in the championship. Not surprisingly, he hopes that the 4-3 aggregate win over Real could have important repercussions in the title race.

"Barcelona played a great game against a high-quality team. We have demonstrated that we have ambition, capacity of sacrifice, and possibilities of winning the league," the former England manager said after the 1-1 draw. "It was one of the most important games of my career."

Goalkeeper Vitor Baia kept his side in the cup with a series of key saves, while fellow Portuguese international Fernando Couto staked his claim to a regular place by marking dangerous Real forward Predrag Mijatovic out of the game. Robson may give Couto the task of controlling Romanian Florin Raducioiu, who has rejoined Espanyol after a spell at West Ham.

Espanyol fans hope the return of Raducioiu will revitalise a side who have slipped to 16th in the league after finishing fourth last season. But they are aware that their side have not beaten Barcelona in league or cup matches for nine years.

Elsewhere, graffiti demanding the resignation of coach John Toshack was daubed on the walls of Deportivo La Coruna's Riazor stadium following their elimination from the Spanish Cup on Wednesday.

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