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Barcelona refuse to panic after latest defeat

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is refusing to press the panic button despite seeing his side’s lead at the top of the La Liga table cut to four points. Barca went down 4-3 at Atletico Madrid on Sunday evening, which allowed bitter rivals Real Madrid to further close the gap at the summit. But despite the previously imperious Catalan club’s patchy form since the turn of the year, Guardiola is remaining calm.

“I do not believe that my team is showing signs of fatigue. We always try to end a match strongly with the intention to win,” he said. “Real Madrid have now trimmed our lead by eight points in the space of three rounds and there are only three months to go until the end of the season. But I am confident that we will bounce back and continue to march forward.”

Valencia coach Unai Emery is confident of Champions League qualification despite the club’s latest setback. Sunday’s 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Valladolid has left Los Che down in eighth place in the La Liga table. But despite their recent travails, Emery still believes a top-four finish is achievable.

 “As of Monday, we will begin our work to put an end to our negative streak,” he said. “Our comeback starts now. We are going to move forward and we have a team capable of finishing in the top four. We are going to fight for it and I have faith in my team.”

Meanwhile, Portugal great Luis Figo has urged Cristiano Ronaldo to finally make the move to Real Madrid this summer. The world and European player of the year flirted with the Spanish champions throughout last summer before being persuaded that his future lay with Manchester United. But Figo believes the current Portugal captain is now coming towards the end of his chapter in England and should make the move to the Bernabeu.

“Real Madrid is the most important club in the world, the best club in the world,” he said. “I think Ronaldo has already wrapped up a stage at United. He has won everything he can with the English club, which is another great club, but he should have other goals now, other ambitions, and Real Madrid would allow him to achieve more importance, more relevancy. That is what I have told him. I don’t know what he thinks now.”