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Rediff.com  » Sports » Real Madrid out to break records and Barcelona monopoly

Real Madrid out to break records and Barcelona monopoly

February 17, 2012 09:11 IST

Real Madrid's 10-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga should be more than enough to secure a first title since 2008 and the focus has shifted to whether Jose Mourinho's fearsome side can smash the records for points and goals.

On current form - they have won 17 of 18 games since the end of September - they will easily outstrip the 99 points Barca accumulated in 2010 and are comfortably on course to beat the top mark of 107 goals set by John Toshack's Real team in 1990.

- 'Ship captain' Mourinho answers critics in style

Real's consistency owes much to the form of La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 27 goals in 22 matches ahead of Saturday's game at home to struggling Racing Santander.

The creativity of Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria, who have 24 league assists between them, and solidity of central defenders Sergio Ramos and Pepe have been key, while strikers Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain have contributed regularly with vital goals.

Cristiano RonaldoMourinho appears, too, to have imbued his players with greater self-belief, which has helped them to some impressive comeback wins both at home and on the road.

However, Barca's struggles on their travels - they lost 3-2 at Osasuna last weekend and have taken just 17 of 33 available points - is the principle reason why the battle for the league title looks to be over with just over half the season played.

"I am sure that the players and the coach will not concede a centimetre of their advantage," Real director of football Miguel Pardeza said on Wednesday.

"We are well positioned and the 10 points give us some room for error," the former Real player added.

"But now it's about avoiding carelessness because Barca is still a great rival and in sport you can't assume something is over until the goal has been completely achieved."

SPANISH TRADITION

For all their dominance over the rest of the teams in La Liga, Real face the real prospect of winning the title without managing to beat their arch rivals.

Barca, who host third-placed Valencia on Sunday, came from a goal down to secure a 3-1 success at Real's Bernabeu stadium in December, knocked Real out of the King's Cup over two legs in January and also beat them to win the season-opening Spanish Super Cup in August.

However, Real may have already clinched the title by the time they play at the Nou Camp at the end of April and if the Barca players have to applaud their rivals on to the pitch, as is the tradition in Spain, Mourinho and his troops will probably not care as much about the result.

A win for Valencia at the Nou Camp on Sunday, who are eight points ahead of their city rivals Levante in fourth, would trim the gap to Barca to five points.

Levante are at home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, while fifth-placed Espanyol play at Getafe on Saturday and improving Atletico Madrid, in sixth, travel to Gijon to take on struggling Sporting on Sunday.

Source:
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