Barcelona edge closer to La Liga title as Real Madrid lose

Barca move eight points clear with win at Villarreal after Real slump to shock defeat by Sporting Gijón

pep guardiola
Pep Guardiola's men are eight points clear of Real Photo: The Sport Review

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Barcelona moved one step closer to retaining their La Liga crown with a 1-0 victory at Villarreal after title rivals Real Madrid suffered a shock defeat by Sporting Gijón.

Gerard Pique scored the winner at El Madrigal on Saturday as Pep Guardiola’s men moved eight points clear of Real at the top of La Liga.

Jose Mourinho had earlier seen his nine-year unbeaten home record ended when Miguel de las Cuevas gave Sporting Gijón a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu.

Despite his side’s dominant position Barcelona boss Guardiola insists Real are still a threat to their title hopes with El Clasico at the Bernabeu to come in two weeks’ time.

“Madrid will fight until the end,” he said. “We have a good advantage but there are many points left to be played for and we are competiting against a very strong opponent.”

Reflecting on Saturday’s victory, the 40-year-old added: “We came here to win the match and knew beforehand that we were up against a team that has players like Borja Valero and Cani.

“They played well at times and had a great game in the first half, but Pique’s goal helped us win.”

Meanwhile, Real manager Mourinho is not so optimistic and he believes the title race is all but over with eight games to go.

“While it’s still mathematically possible, you have to say it’s practically impossible now,” said Mourinho.

“You can lose with dignity and we did that. The players have no reason to be distraught. Luck is part of the game and they had all the luck.”

Mourinho also hinted that Cristiano Ronaldo will play against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday after missing Saturday’s clash with a hamstring strain.

“Ronaldo can play only if we take a risk,” added Mourinho. “The medical staff have told me he should come back on Saturday against Bilbao.

“If he decides he wants to take a risk and I decide he should take a risk, then we can go past the medical advice and he will play.”

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