Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso believes his side still have every chance of claiming the La Liga title this year despite falling into third place with just seven games remaining.
Los Blancos’ city rivals Atletico Madrid lead the way on 76 points, one ahead of Barcelona in second with Real a further two points behind the Catalans.
Things are further complicated for Carlo Ancelotti’s men because they have an inferior head-to-head record against both Atletico and Barca meaning they can’t afford to even finish level on points with either of their title rivals.
Two defeats in consecutive games to Barcelona and Sevilla last month have cost Real dearly, but they have bounced back with two comprehensive wins over Rayo Vallecano and Borussia Dortmund.
Alonso told the club’s website that the team needs to keep fighting.
“The teams that beat us were in great form, we didn’t play well in two games and we committed errors that we paid very heavily for,” Alonso said.
“We were behind before and we came back.”
Madrid face arguably the most difficult of their remaining league games when they play Real Sociedad, and as a former Sociedad player, Alonso knows what to expect in San Sebastian.
“Anoeta is always difficult. They have had two seasons playing well and enjoying great results so the fans are thrilled with the team. We need to recover as quickly as possible because it will be a difficult game and we can’t do anything other than win.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off towards the end of Real’s 3-0 win over Dortmund on Wednesday due to a slight knee injury, but was expected to be fit to start against Sociedad.
Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have more serious injury problems to overcome as they host Villarreal and Real Betis respectively on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Barca defender Gerard Pique will miss the next four weeks after suffering a hairline fracture in his right hip during the Catalans 1-1 draw against Atletico in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.
The injury to Pique will see Marc Bartra paired alongside Javier Mascherano for the title run as well as the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid, and the return leg away to Atletico on Wednesday.
Atletico’s top scorer Diego Costa will be also sidelined this weekend due to a hamstring problem he picked up against Barca, despite the injury not being as serious as first feared.
It is also another important weekend at the foot of the table as nine teams are separated by just six points in the bottom half.
Six of those sides go head-to-head as Rayo Vallecano host Celta Vigo, Granada travel to Malaga in an Andalusian derby and Elche welcome Getafe.