Ronaldo tells team-mates to enjoy clasicos

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

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo urged his team-mates to enjoy the four "Clasicos" in three competitions they will play against arch-rivals Barcelona between Saturday and May 3.

"We have to be positive and trust in ourselves," the Portugal international, who has not scored against Barca in six matches for Real and his previous club Manchester United, said on the club's website.

"I don't think this has ever happened before in football, playing so many games against one team," he added. "We have to enjoy it. It's nice and good for football."

Leaders Barca have an eight-point advantage with seven games left ahead of Saturday's match at the Bernabeu.

The world's two richest clubs meet in the final of the domestic King's Cup on Wednesday before playing home and away in the Champions League semi-finals.

Real director general Jorge Valdano is already thinking ahead to next season and said the club are monitoring the transfer market with a view to adding to the hundreds of millions of euros they have spent on players in recent seasons.

"We are looking to bolster the squad in the positions where we believe there is some weakness," Valdano said in an interview with the club's television channel.

Former Real midfielder Steve McManaman, who never lost against Barca in seven "Clasicos" between 1999 and 2003, said the Real-Barca match-up is unlike any other fixture in football.

"El Clasico is like nothing else because of the history and the tradition," he said on UEFA's website.

"I must admit I loved those games," he added. "If you get the right result, you enjoy everything about it. If you lose, though, it's an absolute disaster."

Valencia coach Unai Emery warned his players ahead of Saturday's match at bottom club Almeria that they are a long way from securing third spot and an automatic qualification berth in next season's Champions League.

Valencia are six points ahead of fourth-placed local rivals Villarreal, who they thrashed 5-0 last weekend.

"There are 21 points still to play for and defeat in tomorrow's game would cancel out the victory over Villarreal," Emery told a news conference on Friday. "We know that it's going to be more difficult than against Villarreal."

Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido praised his team for securing an 8-2 aggregate victory in their Europa League quarter-final against Twente Enschede on Thursday and noted that eight of their players had come through the club's youth system.

"These young players are giving more each day and they are coming on in leaps and bounds," Garrido told a news conference ahead of Villarreal's game at Real Zaragoza on Monday.


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