Barca take long view on title race after first defeat

Madrid: Barcelona preferred to take a long view on the La Liga title race the day after losing their first game of the season 1-0 at Getafe to slip six points behind in-form leaders Real Madrid.

The European and Spanish champions, who have won three consecutive league crowns, are in the unfamiliar position of trailing their arch-rivals with two weeks to go until the first league `clasico` of the campaign at the Bernabeu.

The Madrid-based sports press made much of Real`s advantage with Marca and AS both trumpeting the new six-point gap on their Sunday front pages.

"Many people would hand out the league trophy now and are setting off rockets," Barca`s Brazilian defender Dani Alves told a news conference on Sunday.

"They don`t hand out the cup now. Luckily for us there is still a long way to go and one of the keys to this team is that they never give up."

Real swept aside city rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 on Saturday for their 13th consecutive victory in all competitions, and Jose Mourinho`s team opened up a gap which could prove difficult to bridge, especially if they were to be victorious on Dec. 10.

Real and Barca, the world`s two richest clubs by income, have dominated La Liga the last couple of seasons with both sides racking up over 90 points, leaving third-placed Valencia more than 20 points behind in third.

With draws being called `the new defeats` by local media, Real, who have only lost once at surprise early pacesetters Levante earlier in the campaign, would appear to hold a psychological edge in the run up to the first `clasico`.

"There is still a long way to go," Guardiola said on Saturday. "We all know we are competing against a great rival and have less room for more slip ups, but we will lift ourselves and move forward again."

Barca`s 27-game unbeaten run in competitive matches stretched over six months, and they last suffered a defeat in April last season, when they fell 2-1 at Real Sociedad in La Liga.

They have a midweek league clash at home to promoted Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday, a game rearranged because of their participation in next month`s Club World Cup, and then host Levante next weekend, before returning to face their title rivals.

Bureau Report