We are the underdogs says Guardiola after rampant Real hit six

David Villa's return to goalscoring form has provided a much-needed lift to Barcelona and coach Pep Guardiola, whose defensive problems have been compounded again by injuries to Gabriel Milito and Maxwell.

With Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal and Adriano also sidelined, Guardiola has a severe defensive headache as Barça prepare for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg away to a Real Madrid side now bristling with confidence.

The silver lining was Villa's goal in a laboured 2-0 La Liga win at home to Osasuna on Saturday, the Spanish striker's first in 12 games in all competitions. "The most important thing is that the team scores and wins," said Villa, who was visibly relieved after his goal in the 24th minute at the Nou Camp, his 18th in the league this season. "There is time now to rest and to think about the first leg of the Champions League semis."

It was unclear how long Milito (calf) and Maxwell (groin) would be out of action. Puyol trained away from the rest of the squad, while Abidal and Adriano are unlikely to play again this season.

Last week's dramatic Copa del Rey final victory over Barça has provided a palpable boost to Real coach Jose Mourinho and his players and they romped to a 6-3 win at third-placed Valencia on Saturday despite resting several key squad members.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain got a hat-trick on Real's return to the Mestalla stadium, three days after victory there earned them a first Spanish Cup since 1993, and playmaker Kaka scored twice as the pair continued their comebacks from injury.

Guardiola admitted that the balance of power had shifted to the Spanish capital since then. "We know that Madrid are not going to lose any more [league] games because with a title in the bag they are liberated and we have to get back to winning ways," he said. "We are not going [to Madrid] in the best condition but in mental terms we will travel to the Bernabeu with a lot of enthusiasm. We accept that Madrid are favourites, they have earned that in the last few weeks, and we'll try to turn that around."

Barça midfielder Sergio Busquets, whom Guardiola has deployed as a makeshift centre-back in recent weeks together with Javier Mascherano, said injuries could not be used as an excuse for failure at this crucial stage of the season. "The more players we have available the stronger we are, as that means the coach has more options," Busquets said yesterday. "But there are no excuses now."

In Italy, Robinho scored the only goal against Brescia which took Milan closer to the Serie A title and sent their hosts closer to Serie B at the Stadio Rigamonti. The Brazilian struck in the 82nd minute just moments after the home side had hit the woodwork.

The win sends Milan eight points clear of Internazionale with four games remaining. Inter did their best to keep the pressure on their city rivals with a 2-1 win over Lazio, but it did not come easily as they had to overcome the first-half dismissal of goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

Mauro Zarate had given the visitors the lead in the first half, but Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o got the goals as Lazio also had Stefano Mauri sent off. The win saw Inter climb above Napoli, who suffered a 2-1 defeat at Palermo.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot