AfterknockingRealMadridoutoftheCopadelRey,Barcelonanowhavetheopportunitytosendtheirrivalspackinginthetitleracetoo。

Barcas3-0victoryonWednesdaymeansBarcawillreturntotheSantiagoBernabeuonSaturdaywithaspringintheirstep,evenifMadridwerethebettersideandhadthebetteropportunitiesuntilthechaoticfinal30minutes,whenaLuisSuarezdoubleandRaphaelVaraneowngoalgavevictorytotheCatalans。

Theyhadmorechancesinthefirsthalf,itstrue,saidGerardPique。

Butinthesecondweknewhowtogetatthem。

Theyleftmorespaceandin10to15minuteswescoredthreegoals。

ArepeatthisweekendinLaLigawouldleaveSantiagoSolarisside12pointsadriftofBarcelona,whowouldeffectivelyhaveanextrapointsadvantagegiventheirsuperiorhead-to-headrecord。

Thatwouldbeagargantuangaptomakeupwith12gamesleft。

AtleticoMadridarecloser,sevenpointsback,andtheystillhavetoplayBarcainApril,albeitattheCampNou,wheretheyhavenotwonin18visits。

ButthereisnodoubtbumpingRealoutofthechasewouldbeamajorstepfortheCatalans。

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Theyshouldfeelconfidentifrecentformbetweenthetwosidesisanyguide。

TheCopadelReywinwasBarcelonasfourthinsixgamesattheBernabeuandineachofthosetheyhavescoredthreeormore。

Thisseasonalone,theiraggregatetotalagainstRealreads9-2。

AndwhileMadridwilltakeheartfromthehandfulofgoldenopportunitiestheycreated,itwastheiropponentsthatshowedthekillerinstinct,deliveredbyplayersusedtoproducingwhenitmattersmost。

WhenLuisSuarezisinthearea,heisat200percent,saidValverde。

ThequestionforBarcaisalsowhattheseshowingsagainstthedefendingEuropeanchampionssayabouttheirownchancesintheChampionsLeague。

AgoallessdrawatLyoninthefirstlegleavestheirlast16tiedelicatelypoisedaheadofthehomereturnnextmonthandifBarcadocomethrough,sternertestswilllieahead。

SuarezsbraceonWednesdaycontinuesatimelyreturntoformwhileLionelMessishowedagainstSevillalastweekendthatheisreadytocalluponhisscintillatingbestwhenrequired。

Itisindefencewheredoubtsremain。

TheeasewithwhichMadridopenedBarcauponthecounter-attacksuggeststhereisstillavulnerabilityonthebreak,whichteamsintheChampionsLeaguewillbebetterplacedtoexploit。

MidfieldhasbeenbypassedtooeasilyallseasonwhileneitherNelsonSemedonorSergiRobertohavereallyconvincedatrightback。

ThereisstilltimetotightenupandSamuelUmtitisreturntofitnesswillbeawelcomeboostifhecanfindsharpnessbeforetheendoftheseason。

ButforthosethatcravesuccessintheChampionsLeague,morethaneitherLaLigaortheCopadelRey,thereisroomforimprovement。

Wearehappytogothroughbutwehavedohavetodosomethingsalotbetter,Valverdesaid。

Thereareimportantmatchestocome。

AtleticoMadridplayaresurgentRealSociedadonSundaywhileGetafessurprisechallengeforChampionsLeaguequalificationcontinuesawayatRealBetis。

WEEKENDFIXTURES?

Friday

RayoVallecanovGirona?

Saturday

EspanyolvRealValladolid,VillarrealvAlaves,HuescavSevilla,RealMadridvBarcelona?

Sunday

EibarvCeltaVigo,RealBetisvGetafe,RealSociedadvAtleticoMadrid,ValenciavAthleticBilbao

Monday