Guardiola: Focus is on La Liga

MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of this weekend's matches:

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has told his players to forget this week's controversial Champions League clash at arch rivals Real Madrid and concentrate on Saturday's La Liga match at home to mid-table Real Sociedad.

"We have to remember that a large part of the league title is at stake at a stadium which is very tough," Guardiola told a news conference on Friday, two days after the ill-tempered semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu, which Barca won 2-0.

"If we don't focus all five senses we won't manage it," he added. "Mathematically we are seven points from being league champions and each win you get is a huge step."

Barca have 88 points from 33 matches, eight ahead of second-placed Real with five games left, and are closing in on a third straight Spanish league title and possibly a points tally that will exceed last year's record total of 99.

If they avoid defeat at Sociedad's Anoeta stadium, they will equal the Basque club's La Liga record of 32 matches without losing set in the 1979/80 season.

Guardiola decided to rest captain and central defender Carles Puyol, who has only just returned from injury, for the match in San Sebastian, while midfielder Andres Iniesta has a calf strain and was also left out of the squad.

World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, La Liga top scorer with 31 goals, picked up a couple of knocks on Wednesday and his fitness will be assessed again on Saturday, Guardiola said.

Eric Abidal is still recovering from surgery on a liver tumour, and fellow defenders Maxwell and Adriano and forward Bojan Krkic are unavailable due to injury.

Mourinho will also rest some of his first-choice players for Real's game at home to struggling Real Zaragoza, when the King's Cup they won against Barca in Valencia last week will be presented to the home fans.

Forward Cristiano Ronaldo and midfielders Xabi Alonso and Lassana Diarra were left out of the squad, while midfielders Sami Khedira and Fernando Gago are out injured.

Villarreal, six points behind Valencia in fourth, need to pick themselves up for their game at home to Getafe on Sunday after they were thrashed 5-1 at Porto in Thursday's first leg of their Europa League semi-final.

"We are a professional team and we are already thinking only about recuperating physically and mentally," coach Juan Carlos Garrido told a news conference after the match.

"We have to deal with the reality of this result with the necessary maturity," he added. "That's the first step needed so that we can confront the team's immediate future with optimism."


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