Mascherano - No margin for Barca error
Barcelona can afford no slip-ups if they are to peg back Read Madrid and record a fourth straight Primera Division title, according to defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano.
Despite often reaching their now expected levels of brilliance this season, Pep Guardiola's side are heading into the home straight of the campaign 10 points behind their bitter rivals with 12 games remaining.
With Madrid seemingly looking unstoppable out in front, Barca's chances of lifting the trophy are slim at best, but Mascherano sees no reason to halt their pursuit, especially as he hopes it can aid their Champions League ambitions.
"We have to continue our work and win the points that we need, and then see if we have any chance because we have no margin for error,'' he told the club's official website ahead of Sunday's trip to Sevilla.
"In any case, we need to maintain our form for a good run in the other competitions.''
Real Madrid host Malaga on Sunday and will look to build on their six-game winning run at home in all competitions since they were beaten by Barca on January 18.
Jose Mourinho's side return to league action following a 4-1 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow last night, but even though they have scored 12 goals in their last three games, Malaga midfielder Santi Cazorla is confident his side can get a result.
Malaga are currently fourth in the overall standings, four points behind third-placed Valencia, and despite losing once to Madrid in the league and twice in the Copa Del Rey knockout stages this season, Cazorla believes a win is on the cards.
"This has been a good week for us, resulting in very positive league position which gives us much more confidence, having won three straight games, both at home and away,'' Cazorla told Spanish newspaper AS.
"We want to further strengthen our position and defend fourth place and the place in Europe we have now. We will go out and try to win, as we do against every team."
At the other end of the table, Granada host strugglers Sporting Gijon on Saturday.
Sporting are currently in the relegation zone, but are just four points behind Granada who occupy 16th place.
Sporting midfielder Sebastian Eguren predicts the clash between the two sides will reflect both teams' bid for top-flight survival.
"We will approach the match with the same mentality as we did Racing Santander (where they drew 1-1) and try to get the three points against a direct rival.
"It will be a a very intense meeting because they will be thinking the same too.
"Granada has very good squad and play some very good football and we need to playing with the intensity that was shown against Sevilla (in the 1-0 win last week)."
In Saturday's other games, Getafe host Real Sociedad, Osasuna travel to Real Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano host Real Betis.
On Sunday, Levante play Villarreal, Real Mallorca entertain Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao host Valencia. Espanyol play Racing Santander on Monday.