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Corrigan: Vela stars in Moyes' home debut

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Jan 6, 2006

Barcelona focused on titles rather than records

MADRID, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Leaders Barcelona can extend their winning streak to 15 games in all competitions with a victory at city rivals Espanyol in the Primera Liga on Saturday.

The champions broke the club record last month and returned from the winter break to continue their run with a 3-1 win over third division Zamora in Tuesday's King's Cup first leg tie.

However, the players recognise that trophies and titles matter more than records.

'We could win 20 or 25 games consecutively but if you don't win anything it would all be in vain,' Brazilian defender Edmilson told a news conference.

'We have to keep our heads clear and focus on the real objectives. With each game that goes by we need to be more and more attentive.

'There are still five months to go which are crucial for the club and we need to be focused to complete what could be an exceptional season.'

Coach Frank Rijkaard, who rested attacking trio Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi during the week, will be without defender Rafael Marquez (thigh strain) and long term injury victim Xavi.

Espanyol, three points above the relegation places in 14th, are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions.

Second-placed Osasuna, two points adrift of Barca, will seek to extend their 100 percent home record to 10 consecutive wins when they entertain Racing Santander on Sunday.

Racing beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu last time out.

SELECTION PROBLEMS

Atletico Madrid, whose squad were struck down with a virus during the week that forced the postponement of their King's Cup tie with Real Zaragoza, will need their best players back to full fitness for the visit of third-placed Valencia on Sunday.

Quique Sanchez Flores's side are in fine form with six wins from their last seven outings in all competitions, while misfiring Atletico have not won in eight league games.

Fifth-placed Real Madrid received a boost to their morale with a 1-0 away win over Athletic Bilbao in the King's Cup on Tuesday but still have a number of selection problems ahead of their trip to fourth-placed Villarreal.

Brazil striker Ronaldo is struggling to recover from a calf injury and Raul remains sidelined with a knee injury while England captain David Beckham is suspended.

Newly-signed Italy striker Antonio Cassano is unlikely to feature as he has been set an individual training plan designed to improve his fitness after joining from AS Roma.

Beckham's absence could allow another new recruit, Brazilian right back Cicinho, to debut on the right of midfield.

After missing the Cup match on Tuesday, Cicinho's transfer documentation has since arrived and he is available to play.