Barcelona hold an 11-point advantage over arch-rivals Real Madrid ahead of Saturday’s El clasico away at the Santiago Bernabeu but coach Ernesto Valverde as well as striker Luis Suarez have rejected suggestions that a win for the league leaders would effectively seal the title.
Valverde, speaking after his team’s 4-0 win at home to Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday, talked down the significance of the eagerly anticipated clash.
“I don’t think a Clasico victory will give us the title,” he told a news conference. “Atletico are only six points behind. What we know is that this is a long competition, nobody will decide anything at this point. We’re heading into the game happy. We have a week of preparation left and are confident. It’s a tough game against a huge rival, but we’re eager to face them.”
Suarez, who scored twice against Deportivo, was also cautious about the implication of the game on Saturday.
“It would be a plus to win there, but there are other challengers – Valencia and Atletico Madrid are both pushing us – and we have to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way,” Suarez said.
Luis Suarez insists he should have been awarded a goal for a brilliant rabona finish when he reacted quickly to execute a superb improvised finish from a tight angle and at close range in first-half injury time on Sunday.
Deportivo goalkeeper Ruben Martinez sprang into action and referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz was unable to determine with any certainty if the ball had crossed the line before the shot-stopper clawed it away.
Goal-line technology is set to be introduced in Spain’s top flight next season but for now Barca must accept being denied again, Lionel Messi having not been awarded a goal for an effort that appeared to cross the line against Valencia last month.
Speaking after the final whistle, Suarez was adamant it should have been 3-0 going into the half-time break.
“I saw it clearly from my position after finishing, since I am next to the line,” he said.
“That’s why I told the referee, even knowing that for the assistant it could have been difficult to guess, since the goalkeeper could have blocked the assistant [from seeing it].”