A home fixture against Girona on Monday could be just what the doctor ordered for Barcelona, as it looks to rebound from its midweek Copa del Rey humiliation against Real Madrid and refocus its attention on its La Liga title charge.
Karim Benzema struck a hat-trick as Real won the semifinal second leg 4-0 at the Camp Nou to overturn a one-goal deficit and leave Barcelona, which was also eliminated from the Europa League in February, with just the league title to play for.
Top of the league on 71 points, 12 ahead of second-placed rival Real with 11 games left, Barcelona’s players must now ensure that it’s plain sailing in the home stretch of the campaign as it edges closer to the club’s 27th La Liga title.
Barcelona is yet to lose a home league game this season, while Girona has won just twice on their travels, leaving the odds stacked firmly in the Catalan club’s favour.
“We have lost 0-4 but we can win the league and the Super Cup, so we can have a very good season,” Barca coach Xavi told reporters on Wednesday.
“We are already focused on the league, I have told the players: ‘change your mind, think about Girona, rest...’.
“It is a tough night and it will be difficult for us to digest it, but I am thinking about Girona. We have to be positive.”
Elsewhere, Real, which takes on sixth-placed Villarreal, will look to continue its free-scoring form ahead of next week’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Premier League Chelsea.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will be boosted by striker Benzema’s timely return to form, with the Frenchman having scored hat-tricks in his last two outings after failing to score in three straight league games.
However, Real would do well to be wary of Villarreal, which has won its last two league games and emerged victorious when the teams last met in La Liga in January.
In third place, Atletico Madrid can put some distance between itself and the other top-four contenders by beating eighth-placed Rayo Vallecano for a fifth straight league win.
Struggling Valencia takes on 19th-placed Almeria in a match that could have massive implications for the top-flight status of the six-time Spanish league champion.
The two clubs and Espanyol are all tied on 27 points from 27 games, with Valencia in 17th thanks to their superior goal difference.
A defeat would see Valencia slip into the relegation zone and a step closer to spending their first season in the Spanish second tier since 1986-87.
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