MADRID - Real Madrid are refusing to admit defeat in their battle for the La Liga title with Barcelona and are hoping relegation-threatened Real Valladolid can help them out on next weekend's final matchday.
Real have stayed hot on the heels of reigning champions Barca right down to the wire and trail by a point after both won on Saturday, a late goal flurry gave Real a 5-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao with Barca earning a nervy 3-2 win at Sevilla.
The arch rivals have beaten the points record of 92, set with 22 teams in the league rather than the current 20, with Pep Guardiola's Barca side on 96 and Manuel Pellegrini's Real on 95. Third-placed Valencia trail by a massive 27 points.
Real's final match is at relegation candidates Malaga and Barca are at home to Valladolid, who hired former Spain coach Javier Clemente at the beginning of April and are making a late bid to avoid the drop.
"Let's see if Clemente gives us a hand and parks a bus or two in front of the goal," Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa told reporters after the Bilbao game.
"We'll go to Malaga with the idea of getting to 98 points and if Barca get to 99 they'll have to be congratulated," said goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
The difference between Barca and Real this season has been the Catalans' victory in both head-to-head "Clasicos" and the performance of a core group of players.
La Liga top scorer Lionel Messi, midfield orchestrator Xavi, central defender Gerard Pique and goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who all came through the club's youth programme, have been at the centre of Barca's magnificent run.
Clemente said last month in his column in Marca sports daily that Barca played as a team of exceptional individuals, while Real, with expensive signings like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka, had some excellent individuals but did not play as a team.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola was cautious after the win at Sevilla, warning his players there was still work to be done to clinch a second consecutive La Liga triumph in the 39-year-old's second season in charge.
"This is not over, the league is not won," Guardiola told a news conference.
"We can't go to the stadium (next week) thinking the job's already done," he added.
"Our big stroke of luck is that we have our fate in our own hands but we have to win against a team that is fighting to avoid relegation."comments