Madrid, Jan 30 - Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola insists that the Spanish giants are not yet out of the race for the Primera Liga football title.
Barcelona's barren draw away to Villarreal, coupled with Real Madrid's 3-1 home win against bottom of the table Zaragoza means Barcelona are now seven points behind Madrid in the race for the title.
With three points for a win that is not an insurmountable gap, but given that Madrid have only dropped eight points in their first 20 games this campaign and three of those were against Barca, it does show that Barca now rely on other sides to help them out.
Guardiola, however, refuses to give up the battle for a fourth consecutive title.
"We will fight for the league title right to the end and we will do so against a very strong rival," Guardiola was quoted as saying by Xinhua, Sunday.
"All I ask is that my side wins its matches, as so far we have drawn a lot of games that we have deserved to win (Barca have six draws this season) and we will not give up. There are still 18 matches left to be played," said the Barca coach.
Barcelona knocked Madrid out of the Copa del Rey knockout competition after a physical encounter, but Guardiola refused to blame the midweek match for his side's tired legs in Villarreal.
"I didn't see them looking tired, although it has been demanding, You have to look how strongly we finished the game," he explained.
"We want to play in all of the competitions we can do. There are still a lot of games to be played and nobody should doubt that we will give everything," he insisted.
Barcelona's season has no let up as Guardiola's men play Valencia Wednesday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, before entertaining Real Sociedad in the Primera Liga next Saturday night.
Barcelona have several players suffering injuries, Pedro Rodriguez, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Ibrahima Affelay and Andreu Fontas all missed the Villarreal match and only Pedro has a chance of recovering for next weekend. Meanwhile Seydou Keita is away playing in the Copa Africa. (IANS)