Real Madrid vow to fight to the end

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid director general Jorge Valdano insists the side will fight to the bitter end as they seek to win the La Liga title, despite losing to rivals Barcelona 2-0 on Saturday evening.

Los Blancos now trail the current league champions by three points with seven games remaining, but he is not giving up on the expensively assembled team.

"The Clasico wasn't the match we had dreamed about," he said to reporters.

"I can understand why the fans are frustrated because expectations were so high.

"Perhaps the team felt it had too much responsibility placed on its shoulders when it took the pitch. We were much more relaxed in the first match at the Nou Camp.

"Whether we win the league or not, seven finals remain and we are obligated to play our hearts out until 16 May.

"By earning the remaining 21 points we would finish with a league record 98. That is why we are required to put forth our best effort."

Barcelona talisman Xavi has pleaded with his team-mates to keep their cool following Saturday night's fantastic 2-0 La Liga win over fierce rivals Real Madrid sent them three points clear at the top of the table.

Lionel Messi and Pedro scored the crucial goals at Santiago Bernabeu and, although they are now in control with seven games of the season to go, he has urged for caution while heaping praise on coach Pep Guardiola for his managerial style.

Speaking to reporters, he said: "We have not done anything yet, we are not champions. We have seven finals and know we cannot fail because Madrid will not throw in the towel.

"Everything depends on the coach you have, Guardiola has been brave and under him we have always gone to attack.

"Prior to that we went to the Bernabeu not to lose and now we're going to win, trying to apply our pattern of play."

Tenerife defender Marc Bertran still believes the La Liga strugglers can avoid relegation at the end of the campaign despite sitting third from bottom and occupying a place in the drop zone.

The Islanders were held to a goalless draw against Valladolid at the weekend, who sit one place below them, and they are now five points adrift of Malaga with seven games remaining.

However, Bertran is confident they can turn their fortunes around and get out of trouble starting with their game at Sporting Gijon on Tuesday evening.

Speaking to reporters, he said: "We have faith and want to pull this off, but we know it is complicated.

"We expect to win in Gijon and in doing so claim a first away win of the season."