Real Madrid v Barcelona: El Clasico is our last chance to catch Real, claims Barca coach Gerardo Martino
The Spanish champions are four points behind table topping Madrid
Sunday 23 March 2014
Gerardo Martino admitted last night that Barcelona must win the Clasico at the Bernabeu this afternoon to stand any chance of retaining their La Liga title.
The Spanish champions are four points behind Real Madrid in the table and their coach believes the biggest club match in European football offers one final opportunity for his side to close the gap.
"A draw isn't a good result," said Martino. "We're convinced that we can win the Clasico. We'll do everything we can to cut the gap with Real Madrid. It's probably our last chance to win the league. There are nine games left after this one and it's clearly easier to catch up one point than four or seven. It'd be really tough to make up seven or four points – not because we're not capable of doing it but because there are very few points left to play for and teams don't tend to slip up so much at this stage of the season."
Barcelona's hopes have been lifted by the return to form of Lionel Messi after an injury-plagued season. The striker is expected to line up in attack alongside Neymar, the Brazilian forward who was man of the match in Barcelona's 2-1 victory in the previous Clasico at the Nou Camp last October.
"Messi is our star player and makes his mark in decisive matches," added Martino. "If he has a great game we know that will be good for the team.
"Neymar is one of the best five players in the world. I appreciate him and try to make him feel special – because he is."
Latest in Sport
Leicester vs Arsenal match preview: Calm Calum can be an Arsenal star for years to come, says Per Mertesacker
Tottenham vs Liverpool preview: Spurs ready to press their case for Reds revenge
Burnley vs Manchester United match report: Louis van Gaal still winless after goalless draw at Turf Moor
Tottenham vs Liverpool match preview: I can get the best out of Mario Balotelli, says Brendan Rodgers
Everton vs Chelsea player ratings: Who was best in the nine-goal thriller at Goodison?
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 It's not just the savagery of Isis that is shocking – its weaponry is too
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward