Barca to heed warning signs
Star striker Samuel Eto'o has warned Barcelona cannot afford to get caught out by complacency as they attempt to push their Spanish title surge into overdrive.
Barcelona face Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou on Saturday with a 12-point lead over Real Madrid and Sevilla. "We can't afford to rest on our laurels because we've thrown away big leads before," said Eto'o. "We can't afford to get tired of winning."
Last week, Barcelona were indebted to Lionel Messi for keeping their season on track. The Argentine, who was pipped by Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo for the FIFA World Player of the Year award on Monday, scored a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in the Kings Cup and then a last-gasp winner in a 3-2 league win at Osasuna.
The manner in which Barcelona came from behind to win the game in the final ten minutes underlined their never-say-die attitude for manager Pep Guardiola that seemed to have evaporated under former coach Frank Rijkaard. "This spirit is the only thing we can't afford to lose," explained Guardiola. "We all feel part of every game in every competition, that's a good thing."
Depor are enjoying a great season lying seventh, five points behind Real Madrid, and will hope to get over their midweek Kings Cup exit to Sevilla by becoming only the second team to defeat Barca in the league.
Barcelona have equalled the record points total of 47 for the first half of the season - set by Bernd Schuster's Real Madrid last season - and have one game left to better that mark. Schuster is now gone and his successor Juande Ramos has started promisingly with Real, winning their last three league matches without conceding a goal.
Real host Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday. "We have to continue what we are doing and see if we can win some silverware at the end of the season," declared Ramos. "We are 12 points behind (Barcelona) and that is a lot but if we win our games the pressure on them increases."
Dutch winger Arjen Robben has scored in his last two matches and comparisons with Messi have been made in the Spanish media. "Messi is the best in the world," said Robben. "He is on a different planet."
Sevilla, who reached the quarter-finals of the Kings Cup, are level on points with Real going into Saturday's home game against Numancia and can pull three points clear of the champions with victory.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid are desperate to keep Champions League rivals Sevilla on their radar - they are currently five points behind - but are low on confidence after four straight defeats, including a painful Cup exit to Barcelona on Wednesday.
Disgruntled Atletico fans flocked out of the Vincente Calderon turnstiles 10 minutes before the end of last weekend's Athletic Bilbao defeat and the players are probably relieved to be away at Almeria on Sunday.
Valencia, a point behind Real and Sevilla, had to play extra-time to overcome Racing Santander in the cup on Wednesday so the legs could be heavy for Sunday's trip to Athletic Bilbao. "Bilbao are a difficult opponent especially at San Mames with their fans behind them," said Valencia winger Joaquin. We have had one day less to prepare and it is going to take it out of us to win there."