Vilanova: Race not over

Tito Vilanova has downplayed Barcelona’s 11-point advantage over Real Madrid, pointing to recent history and rivals Atletico Madrid as crucial factors.

A day after watching Jose Mourinho’s side falter to a 1-0 defeat at Real Betis, Barca recorded a 4-0 result away to Levante to extend the gap between the two sides to 11 points.

“We were also 11 points clear of Madrid in our first year and we suffered a lot,” remembered Vilanova after his side’s win on Sunday.

“I am thinking of the start to the season and that the players are well acquainted with me better. For a Coach, every game is important, I am not thinking of any gap we can achieve to Madrid.

“There is also still Atletico, who are solid and strong. That is not by coincidence. They finished spectacularly well last season and have Simeone.”

Atletico and Madrid face off next weekend in the Madrid derby, which could see Barca extend their advantage over at least one of the two.

“We have to focus on Atletico. What happens in the derby we cannot control, we are not there. We can focus on other things, I have to focus on my team.

“There are teams that are close to us in the League and there is still a long way to go. The first year we had to go to the Bernabeu and win the League.

“Madrid by the end of the season will be securely up there, that is what characterises them.”

Vilanova then turned his attention to the win at the Ciutat de Valencia, which was achieved thanks to four second-half goals from Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and a Lionel Messi double.

“It was good that the goals came quickly in the second half. This match was tough last year and we had talked about it. Levante do well in these situations.

“They are a team that does very well. Whenever we were attacking they were dangerous on the counter-attack.”

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