Previews: Pep plays down fatigue fears

MADRID - Brief news from La Liga ahead of midweek matches:

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola does not believe tiredness will be a problem for his players as the season enters its final phase and Barca seek to retain their European and Spanish titles.

"Fatigue is all in the mind," he told a news conference on Tuesday. "When they (the players) see what we can achieve again, tiredness does not exist."

Guardiola could be without central defender Gerard Pique for Wednesday's match at home to Osasuna after the Spain international hurt his knee in Sunday's 4-2 win in Zaragoza.

Pique was unable to train with the rest of the first team on Tuesday and joins midfielder Xavi and left back Eric Abidal on the injury list.

Second-placed Barca are level on 68 points with leaders Real Madrid but have an inferior goal difference to their arch rivals, who play at Getafe on Thursday.

In-form Real striker Gonzalo Higuain will play his 100th match for the club, if selected.

"There are two vital months left in the league for us," the Argentina international told a news conference on Tuesday. "There is a great atmosphere in the dressing room and that is being reflected on the pitch."

Injured Real quartet Kaka, Karim Benzema, Royston Drenthe and Mahamadou Diarra were all unable to join Tuesday's training session, and Lassana Diarra was suffering from a stomach complaint and was sent home, the club said on their website.

Third-placed Valencia, 18 points behind the top two, host Malaga on Wednesday and coach Unai Emery said he has stopped calculating how many points the club would need to secure a lucrative spot in next season's Champions League.

"We have to focus on each matchday and each moment," Emery told a news conference. "Malaga are dangerous because they are getting good results and making it difficult for their opponents."

Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez needs a win against basement side Xerez later on Tuesday to ease the pressure after the Andalusian club's exit from the Champions League last week and Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Espanyol.

"If we start looking for excuses we'll get nowhere," Jimenez, whose side are fifth, two points behind fourth-placed Real Mallorca, told a news conference on Monday. "We have to search out the light and not the darkness."

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