Madrid: FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola ruled his side out of the race for the Spanish Primera Liga title Monday.
Lionel Messi`s 28th league goal of the season, a delicate chip from a free kick, gave Barca a 2-1 win away to a battling Atletico Madrid Sunday night, but Real Madrid`s 1-0 win away to Rayo Vallecano earlier in the day meant that Barca are still 10 points behind Real Madrid and have dropped just eight points all season.
Guardiola admitted that 10 points would almost certainly be too much of a gap for his team to close.
"My feeling is that we will not win the league," Guardiola was quoted as saying by Xinhua, although he insisted that his side would not throw in the towel just yet.
"Our aim is to compete as we have done against Atletico. I don`t think that we will be able to catch Real Madrid, but we can`t stop being ourselves," he said.
"In that way we will be able to enjoy the days between matches by knowing that we have done our job. We will continue to compete in order to be prepared for the Champions League and the Copa del Rey," added the Barca coach, whose side would end the season with five titles if they triumph in Europe and in the domestic knockout competition.
Guardiola added that he had given the same message to his players, adding that it was logical to think that way.
He also had words for Messi, who scored his 28th league goal of the campaign to win the match.
"There are some who are leaders because they talk and others are for what they do during 90 minutes of a game. He takes responsibility and he has done that for the past four years, when things are difficult, he always takes a step forward," said Guardiola, who added that the suspension that Messi will have to serve next week after seeing his fifth yellow card of the season will allow the striker to recuperate.
First Published: Monday, February 27, 2012, 21:29