Casillas urges La Liga focus
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Real Madrid travel to RCD Mallorca knowing a victory would stretch their lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga to eight points in advance of Barça's match against Real Betis at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

The title race shifted dramatically in Real's favour last weekend when Barcelona dropped points in a 1-1 draw at Espanyol - a huge blow to the Catalans' aspirations to claim a fourth consecutive league title.

With the bitter rivals not due to meet again in the league until April, the attention has shifted towards the quarter-final clash between the two sides in the Copa del Rey in Madrid next Wednesday.

However, Real captain Iker Casillas has attempted to cool talk about Barça and look ahead to Saturday's important league game. "We must not become obsessed with Barcelona and look first of all to the Mallorca game," Casillas said. "We want to hold on to first position and be consistent in the league.

"The league is week in, week out. We slipped up against Levante and Racing [Santander] earlier on but recovered quickly, now we have this advantage over second place we have to take it match by match now and not drop silly points."

Real have quickly returned to winning ways since the 3-1 home defeat by Barcelona in December, beating Sevilla 6-2 and Granada 5-1 to increase their advantage at the summit.

We must not become obsessed with Barcelona and look first of all to the Mallorca game.
Iker Casillas, Real Madrid goalkeeper

However controversy for Real, fuelled by a demanding local press, is never far away and Casillas was quick to dispel stories that the relationship between Cristiano Ronaldo and the Bernabeu crowd was at a low after the Portuguese star was booed for failing to celebrate a goal in the victory over Granada.

"He is a very competitive person who pushes himself to the limits and demands a lot from himself, he wants the best for the club as do the fans, but the crowd have been with him since day one," Casillas said.

Mallorca will provide stern opposition for Real after a remarkable fightback from three goals down in the first leg of the last-16 stage of the Copa del Rey to sweep aside Real Sociedad 6-1 in the second leg in midweek for a resounding aggregate win.

All of Mallorca's goals came within a total 25 minutes either side of half-time, with live-wire Uruguayan midfielder Chori Castro bagging two. "This result is a reference for us before the Real Madrid game, the attitude and work rate has to be the same. We have to respect them but if we can play our game we can cause them problems," he said.

Barcelona, meanwhile, host an improving Real Betis side who travel to the Catalan capital on the back of three consecutive league victories.

Although susceptible away from home where they have won just three times in eight outings, Barça have yet to concede a league goal at home all season, scoring 39 goals in nine games in the Nou Camp where only Sevilla have managed a point.

Third-place Valencia host Real Sociedad on Saturday, while two teams struggling for form this season meet on Sunday when Atletico Madrid play Villarreal in a home debut for Atletico's new coach Diego Simeone.