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Mar 19, 2014

Pedro: Barca can't afford to lose clasico

Pedro Rodriguez says Barcelona need a good result from Sunday’s clasico meeting with Real Madrid to remain in the Liga title race.

Ledwith: Will Neymar miss out on clasico start?

Barca’s indifferent league form in recent months has seen the Camp Nou outfit slip to third in the table, four points behind in-form leaders Madrid, who are now unbeaten in 31 games in all competitions.

With just nine matches left to play, the Spain international told Barca TV that his team’s title chances would be in trouble if they were to lose at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

“It would make it tough to pull ourselves back into the title race,” Pedro said. “But we are coming into the game in a good moment of form and we know it’s all to play for there. We all want to put in a great performance and keep our Treble hopes alive.”

Barca have dropped points against teams like Levante and Real Valladolid this term, while beating bigger rivals such as Manchester City in Europe and Madrid in October’s first La Liga clasico.

Pedro, 26, believes such occasions tended to bring the best out of his side.

“The team is focused, united and clear about what we have to do,” he said. “In the big games, the team have played really well and at a high level.”

Madrid’s home advantage and strength on the counter-attack make them slight favourites for the weekend’s game, the Canary Islander claimed.

“They might just be favourites because they are playing at home,” Pedro said. “But we know in this type of game there are never clear favourites at all -- anything can happen. They have very quick players up front and they will be waiting for us to give the ball away so that they can hit us hard on the break. We have to be aware of their strengths and their style of play, and use that to exploit our own strong points. Our idea is to move the ball quickly.”

Despite 14 goals and eight assists in 27 La Liga outings this season, Pedro may well be on the bench on Sunday, with Barca coach Gerardo Martino more likely to opt for Alexis Sanchez or Neymar on the wing, while packing his midfield with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.

“I’ll fight and work hard for a place because these games are unique and you never want to miss them,” he said. “You have to be relaxed about it. It’s a tough job for the boss because he’s got 23 very good players and it’s hard to choose just 11 to start a game. You just have to accept the decision. My aim is to give 100 percent whenever I’m called on to play.”

Of his five career goals at the Bernabeu, Pedro said his first -- in a 2-0 win in April 2010 which all but sealed that season’s title -- was his favourite.

“You never forget the first time -- especially if it’s at the Bernabeu,” he said. “I remember it really well -- Xavi put in a long pass and I fired past Iker [Casillas]. Scoring against Madrid is always a big moment for any player.”

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