Martino confident of Barcelona title


Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino insists the La Liga title race is in their own hands as he looks for a 100% winning end to the league season, ahead of Sunday’s visit of Almeria.

Their shock 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad on Saturday leaves leaders Real Madrid three points ahead, with Barca due to visit the Bernabeu on 23 March.

“Everything in the league continues to depend on ourselves, but we need to win every game that remains,” said Martino.

“We need to change the mood quickly.”

Barcelona rested a host of key players last weekend following their  Champions League win at Manchester City, but the move did not pay off as they produced a disappointing display against Sociedad.

Real Madrid could be six points ahead before Barcelona kick-off on Sunday, if they win at third-placed Atletico Madrid, who went into the weekend level on points with the Catalans.

“The fact we didn’t perform as we would have hoped in San Sebastian obliges us even more to be better against Almeria,” said Martino.

“It is impossible not to be aware of what happens in the Madrid derby. Whatever happens, it will continue to be in our hands if we beat Almeria.

“If you had said to us in July you can get to this point of the year, with 20 games ahead of us in three competitions, we would have taken it. We have chances in all of them and we need to fight for them.”

Martino’s men will face Real Madrid in the final of the Copa del Rey in April and are well-placed to progress in the Champions League, having beaten Manchester City 2-0 away in the first leg of their last 16 tie last week.

Martino has left back Jordi Alba available after injury, although Spain team mate Gerard Pique, a centre back, is out with a calf problem.

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