Barcelona aim to maintain momentum
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After outclassing Arsenal and Real Madrid in the space of five days treble winners Barcelona are on for a league and UEFA Champions League double and aim to build on their three-point lead over Real at the top of La Liga when they host Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday.

Barcelona had a week to cherish crushing Arsenal to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and then beating Real 2-0 in 'El Clasico' at the Santiago Bernabeu to seize the upper hand in the title race. The champions look to consolidate that Real win by beating Depor at Camp Nou while Real must pick themselves up for a trip to Almeria on Thursday.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola watched his side end Real's perfect 15 home wins in the league and maintain his flawless record in the Clasicos winning all four since taking charge. "There aren't any secrets, I work hard, work long hours and I've got good players," said Guardiola.

"They know that if they don't run, I'll let them know and since they know that they all work harder. It was an honour to go to Real and win but it will only be worth something if we end up champions - we're not there yet as there are games left to play."

Depor have garnered just two points from the last 18 with their European hopes fading fast as they have fallen five points off the top six. Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini has come under a barrage of criticism following the Barcelona defeat and must dust himself down and rally his troops for the trip to Almeria.

Real pressure
Statistics show Pellegrini in a good light with 77 points from 31 games but the Real board are notoriously demanding and Real have come up short against the big teams losing to Sevilla, AC Milan, Lyon and twice against Barcelona. The league is still a possibility if Barcelona slip up but early elimination from the Champions League and Kings Cup combined with two Clasico defeats has reportedly persuaded Real to look at possible replacements.

Cristiano Ronaldo came to Madrid to win trophies and the Portuguese star has not given up hope on trying to lift the league title. "Barcelona were far superior but we have to pick ourselves up because there are seven games left," said Ronaldo.

"If we win the league it can't be talked of as a failure and we have to believe it is possible. It is never nice to lose but we have to learn from the defeats and we can't give up on the league."

Real had been on a 12-match winning streak in the league before being beaten by Barcelona and Almeria can expect a backlash. Third-placed Valencia have never been in the title race, lying 24 points behind Barcelona at present, and need to just focus on securing third and the automatic Champions League spot after a recent dip.

Valencia lost 3-2 at rivals Real Mallorca on Sunday but are still five points ahead of Sevilla and Mallorca going into Thursday's home match against Athletic Bilbao. Bilbao are sixth and still in the running for a Champions League spot just three points behind fourth-placed Sevilla.

Kings Cup finalists Sevilla are at struggling Valladolid on Tuesday as they battle to hold on to fourth spot. Valladolid are second from bottom six points from safety with new coach Javier Clemente having seven games to rescue them.

Buoyed by their win over Valencia, Mallorca look to improve their poor away form with victory at Real Zaragoza on Wednesday. Mallorca have won just two of their 16 away matches this season but 39 points from a possible 45 at home have them pushing hard for a Champions League berth.

Elsewhere bottom side Xerez, eight points from safety, travel to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday as they bid to beat the drop. Atletico appear to have given up on the league lying eight points off the top six in 10th although they have another route into Europe having reached the Kings Cup final as well as the Europa League semi-final.