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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Real hoping to cash in on Barca's internal problems

MADRID, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Real Madrid hope Samuel Eto'o's criticism of Barcelona team mate Ronaldinho and coach Frank Rijkaard will play into their hands at a crucial point in the season.

'This is just the tip of the iceberg in a battle of egos,' Real Madrid reserve team coach Michel told a conference in Madrid on Wednesday.

'Barcelona are showing signs of instability and other teams including Real Madrid should take advantage of that,' said the former Real player. 'The problems will only get bigger.'

Midfielder Mahamadou Diarra agreed that Barcelona's problems were likely to work to the advantage of Real, who trail the Catalans by five points in the title race.

'At all clubs when a player has problems it can affect the whole team's performance,' the Mali international told a news conference.

Real have had their share of internal difficulties this season with several high-profile players, including Diarra, having had disagreements with first team coach Fabio Capello.

Fourth-placed Valencia, who host Barcelona in their next league match on Sunday, made no secret of the fact that they, too, hoped to cash in on the Catalans' problems.

'Of course we hope it affects them, and a lot too,' Valencia centre-back Roberto Ayala told a news conference. 'I hope it affects them so much that we score three goals against them on Sunday.'