Koeman: Guardiola's Barca better than Cruyff's

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

Ronald Koeman, who scored the goal that earned Barcelona their first European Cup at Wembley in 1992, has said Pep Guardiola's side are better than Johan Cruyff's team which won four consecutive La Liga titles in the early 1990s.

"This team have improved in many areas on ours, it is much better," the Dutchman told daily Mundo Deportivo. "We were able to play the very best game but also the worst. We weren't as consistent as this team."

Barca could win their third La Liga crown on the trot when city rivals Espanyol visit the Nou Camp on Sunday. They have an eight-point lead over Real Madrid with four matches left.

Real need to win at Sevilla on Saturday to deny Barca a chance to wrap up the title in front of their own fans this weekend.

Jose Mourinho is without suspended defender Ricardo Carvalho and winger Angel di Maria while midfielder Sami Khedira is injured.

Karim Benzema, who did not play a minute in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, could lead the line supported by Mesut Ozil, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fifth-placed Sevilla are likely to have Mali striker Frederic Kanoute back in the side after injury but Spain winger Jesus Navas and Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic are sidelined.

"I'm going to meet with the directors and the president to talk about the future," the 33-year-old Kanoute told the club website. He has a contract until 2012.

"I don't want to be playing only five or ten games a year, but this does not mean I'm definitely going at the end of the season. I want to end my European playing career with Sevilla and after that, at the moment, doesn't interest me."

Consecutive defeats have put Valencia's third place and automatic Champions League qualification under threat, making a home victory over Real Sociedad on Saturday even more important. Fourth-placed Villarreal are three points behind.

The future of coach Unai Emery remains uncertain for next season and president Manuel Llorente refused to be drawn when asked by reporters.

"Valencia's history and budget means it needs to be in the Champions League, this is what needs to be made clear and nothing else," he said in reply.

Villarreal put in a battling display to win 3-2 against Porto in their Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday but missed out on a trip to Dublin losing 7-4 on aggregate.

"It has been a historic day for the club because I saw the fans really get behind the team and believing in them," coach Juan Carlos Garrido told reporters.

"Today is the first step towards winning titles in the future."

Sixth-placed Atletico Madrid continue their push for a place in next season's Europa League when Malaga, battling to avoid relegation, visit the Calderon on Saturday.

Top scorer Sergio Aguero has scored five goals in their last four matches and has brushed off the continuous speculation over his future.

"I have a contract with Atletico until 2014 and I'm going to stay with Atletico until 2014," the 22-year-old told reporters on Thursday. "The day I want to go I will tell the club and we'll reach and agreement."


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