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Valverde expects Madrid to challenge until the end

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes Real Madrid will be in the LaLiga title race until the end of the season, despite the seven-point gap between the rivals.

Held by Villarreal last time out, Madrid were left adrift of league leaders Barca almost halfway through the season.

That gap may change on Sunday, with Madrid hosting Real Sociedad and Barcelona making the trip to Getafe.

But Valverde said he expected the capital club to remain in the title race until the end.

"We consider Real Madrid a candidate for the title for the rest of the season," he told a news conference.

"I know that the differences seem great, but are not, just seven points. They are one of our rivals."