Barca begin comeback bid
MADRID: Barcelona must produce one of the biggest comebacks in history if they are to snatch the Spanish title this season with just 11 games left to overturn Real Madrid's commanding eight-point lead at the top.
Barcelona's shock 2-1 defeat by Villarreal last weekend allowed Real to surge eight points clear and bookmakers have Real as red-hot favourites to retain the championship. "There are still 33 points to play for," said Barca's defiant coach Frank Rijkaard. "Of course the gap has widened, but that is no reason to give up. "Nothing is decided in March and we need to fight on."Barcelona travel to Almeria, who have already beaten Real this season, tomorrow as their version of mission impossible begins.
While the focus is on Real, Rijkaard's team should also keep an eye on Villarreal who are now just four points behind in third. Villarreal host Real Zaragoza tomorrow looking to build on their historic Nou Camp victory. Real have been top for virtually the whole season after racing out of the blocks and Argentine Gabriel Heinze is dreaming of winning the title with victory over Barca when the two teams meet at the Santiago Bernabeu at the beginning of May."I hope we win the league at home against Barca so we can celebrate that bit more," said Heinze.Real, still without the injured Arjen Robben and Ruud van Nistelrooy, travel to struggling Deportivo La Coruna today although history has shown that the three points are anything but a formality.Incredibly Real have not won at Depor's Riazor Stadium in 17 years with the last victory way back in the 1991/1992 season."We know it will be complicated to win there," admitted Brazilian defender Pepe. "Deportivo recently defeated Sevilla and they have improved a lot."They will also be extra motivated to face the league leaders." Depor, Champions League semi-finalists in 2004, are just two points off the relegation zone after a torrid season.
TODAY: Recreativo v Real Murcia, Real Betis v Athletic Bilbao, Deportivo La Coruna v Real Madrid, Valencia v Sevilla; TOMORROW: Espanyol v Mallorca, Valladolid v Osasuna, Getafe v Racing, Villarreal v Real Zaragoza, Almeria v Barcelona, Atletico Madrid v Levante. -- AFP
source: AFP via nstonline - http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Saturday/Sport/2186996/Article/index_html