Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes is refusing to take the title for granted as his side prepare for SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s derby against Espanyol at the Nou Camp.
Tito VilanovaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side are nine points clear at the top of the La Liga table after 16 victories and a draw from their 17 league matches this season.
They take on an Espanyol side third from bottom, but Valdes is in no doubt how important the match against their city rivals will be.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have not yet finished the first lap, the reality is that we have good cushion, but not a definitive one,Ã¢â‚¬Â he told reporters.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is a long way to go and many points to play for. All teams deserve the same respect in a very competitive league, you cannot let up.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Underdogs Espanyol are buoyed by a 2-2 draw they registered with champions Real Madrid in December.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The game at the BernabeuÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s is a reference point,Ã¢â‚¬Â said striker Sergio Garcia. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nobody expected anything and we got a draw we deserved.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Hector Moreno is equally positive that his side can get a result.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What counts in the end is what we do, as the team have a good chance to get something from there,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are in a good place, working hard, and we want to continue.Ã¢â‚¬Â
MadridÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s title challenge may be all but over with Jose MourinhoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side 16 points behind Barcelona, but defender Sergio Ramos is not giving up and has backed his side to beat Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think if you ask any fan, whether old or new, we continue to fight for every title,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The league is complicated but not impossible. And what better way to start than against Real.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is possible the team is anxious. I do not think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the problem, but the break was good to reflect.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But we are on the right track and the attitude is always good.Ã¢â‚¬Â