Previews: Barca close in on record points haul

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

Barcelona can set a new La Liga points record of 93 with a home win over relegation-threatened Tenerife on Tuesday, beating the 92 set by Real Madrid under Fabio Capello in 1996-97 when there were 22 teams rather than 20.

"Both teams pushing for the league title deserve to be champions because we have set new records," Real coach Manuel Pellegrini told a news conference before his side's trip to fourth-placed Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Real, who have lost both this season's "Clasicos" against Barca, are a point behind the champions with three matches left.

Pellegrini is without the injured Raul, Rafael van der Vaart, Lassana Diarra and Pepe for the Mallorca game and left back Marcelo is suspended. Midfielder Royston Drenthe returns to the squad after shaking off a muscle problem.

Real's France striker Karim Benzema says he wants more playing time to help him settle at the club he joined from Olympique Lyon in the close season.

"I need to play more to feel better as it's fundamental for me and for my speed," Benzema said in an interview with television broadcaster La Sexta.

"There are still difficulties with my adaptation but I have a lot of time, with a five-year contract," he added. "Next season you will see the best of Benzema."

Pellegrini's future will be discussed after the season, Real director general Jorge Valdano said.

"The issue of sacking (Pellegrini) is only in the media," As sports daily quoted the Argentine as saying. "I would like stability."

With a two-point lead over fifth-placed Sevilla, Mallorca are in pole position to secure Spain's fourth Champions League qualification spot, a situation coach Gregorio Manzano describes as a "miracle".

"The main reason is the commitment and professionalism of the squad," Manzano, whose contract expires at the end of the season, told Marca sports daily.

"We also had a solid start and good fortune with injuries, there have been players who have made a qualitative leap forward this year and others who were new and not featuring for their previous teams have been coming to prominence."

Tenerife, promoted at the end of last season, have made a late bid to avoid the drop, winning three of their last four matches, but remain 18th on 35 points, two ahead of Real Valladolid and five clear of bottom club Xerez.

"A draw (at Barca) would be a great result for us, considering they have three times as many points," coach Jose Luis Oltra said. "But any team that goes out to play for a draw normally ends up losing."

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