Pautasso: Barca title hopes 'depend on us'

Assistant coach Jorge Pautasso maintained Barcelona's title hopes remain in their own hands after a 4-1 win over Almeria.

The win over Almeria, and the Madrid derby between Atletico and Real finishing in a 2-2 draw on Sunday, has left Barca just a point off top spot.

With 12 league games remaining, Real (64 points) lead Barcelona (63) and Atletico (61) in the title race.

With matches against both their title rivals still to come, Pautasso said top spot would remain up for grabs until season's end.

"The only important thing here is that we have won. We are close to our opponents," he told a news conference in place of coach Gerardo Martino.

"Of course the result of the (Madrid) derby is good for us. Atletico took a point, which is bad, but we are closer now to Real Madrid.

"I think we still have chances to catch them. It depends on us. I think the title won't be decided until the end of the season, with the three teams fighting close."

Alexis Sanchez tucked away a rebound at the back post to give Barca a ninth-minute lead before Lionel Messi curled in a stunning 30-yard free-kick.

The La Liga relegation battlers hit back through an Angel Trujillo header in the 27th minute, but Barca sealed the points late on.

Carles Puyol scrambled in a goal and Xavi struck from range in the final eight minutes to give Barca three points.

"The first half was impeccable, we constantly created chances, and we did well to recover possession," Pautasso said.

"We had 10 clear chances to score, but in the second half we lacked depth, despite having the ball.

"In the end, however, we closed out the game. The goal margin we won by is justified."

Pautasso is worried about Barca's defending from set-pieces after conceding from a corner to Almeria, who are three points clear of the bottom three.

"We are a short team and that makes aerial plays difficult for us," he said.

"In some situations we use a zone marking system, in other we mark man-to-man. Our rivals take advantage when they get set-pieces.

"We will try to improve in this regard and we will try to avoid conceding risky free-kicks and corners."


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