Madrid, Barca look to rally from European losses
MADRID (AP) -Real Madrid has little time to mourn its Champions League loss, as it has a chance to wrap up the Spanish league title as early as this weekend.
Madrid can secure its record 32nd league crown on Sunday if it beats Sevilla and Barcelona loses at Rayo Vallecano. Madrid leads the three-time defending champions by seven points with four games to play.
The Spanish giants were favorites to win their respective Champions League semifinals and set up a first ever "clasico'' final, but instead followed one another out of the competition as Madrid lost on penalties to Bayern Munich on Wednesday - a day after Barcelona was eliminated by Chelsea.
Madrid now looks to avoid any slip-up as it closes in on a first league trophy in four years, leaving Barcelona eyeing next month's Copa del Rey final as the last chance to salvage some silverware in what is proving to be a disappointing end to the season.
"That competition is in the past now, we have no chance to win it so we have to forget about it,'' Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas said. "We have to forget about it and think about Sunday.''
Cristiano Ronaldo looks to increase his league-record tally of 42 goals, with Lionel Messi right behind him on 41. Ronaldo scored both of Madrid's goals against Bayern on Wednesday to take his season tally to 56 but then missed his penalty in the shootout. Messi, meanwhile, has 63 goals in all competitions but is scoreless in his last three games - an unusually long drought by his standards.
Barcelona has the tougher task of rebounding from a semifinal it was in control of, with the defending European champions leading 2-0 against 10-man Chelsea, which rallied to draw and take the series.
Reports Thursday from Barcelona suggested coach Pep Guardiola would be meeting with president Sandro Rosell to discuss his future, as he has yet to decide whether to extend his contract for another season.
"This club and its players have shown in the past after big losses it can rebound,'' midfielder Cesc Fabregas said. "We have to remain confident in our abilities and go forward, focusing on the remaining league games and then the cup.''
Racing Santander could be the first team to be relegated from the first division on Saturday if it fails to win at Real Sociedad, while Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon know any losses could also condemn them to dropping into the second division.
Zaragoza welcomes Athletic Bilbao and Sporting is at Espanyol on Saturday, when 17th-place Villarreal could also take a big step toward staying up with a win over Osasuna.
Malaga's tentative hold on fourth place and the league's final Champions League spot will be tested Sunday when it welcomes third-place Valencia, especially as Levante can apply further pressure by beating Granada a day earlier.
Athletic and Atletico Madrid, which plays at Real Betis, are also chasing Malaga as the pair trail by four points.
Also, Getafe plays Mallorca.
SI Now: Is it a good idea to expand the NFL playoffs?
SI Now: Mack Brown denies reports of decision to stepping down