Elche vs Barcelona preview - Messi urges Barca to seize chance

Posted Saturday, May 10, 2014 by PA

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is determined not to waste the unexpected lifeline his side have been given in the Primera Division title race.

Barca's players all but conceded the chances of retaining their Liga crown - or picking up any major silverware this season - were over following last Saturday's home draw with lowly Getafe.

However, 24 hours after that loss Barca saw their two title rivals also drop points, with leaders Atletico Madrid going down 2-0 at Levante and Real Madrid drawing 2-2 at home with Valencia.

And there was more good news for Barca in midweek as Real were held again, this time by relegation-battling Real Valladolid after conceding an 85th-minute leveller at the Jose Zorrilla.

The net outcome of those results means Barca now have control of their own futures, lying three points behind Atletico with two games to go but with a home match against Diego Simeone's men still to come on the final day of the season.

If Barca win that game they will claim a fifth title in six years - providing they do not throw it all away against 14th-placed Elche this weekend.

Messi said on his club's website: "We have to make the most of this and not let the chance slip.

"We are better off now than we were a few weeks ago. We now have a chance in the league and we are not depending on results going our way."

Midfielder Pedro echoed those thoughts, but warned his team-mates not to assume Elche will be pushovers.

"We've been given a huge morale boost. We depend on ourselves and it would be unforgivable not to take advantage," the Spain international said.

"Those results were unthinkable, now we've been given a second chance and we need to make the most of it.

"The league depends, firstly, on what we do on Sunday and we're going to a difficult ground. It's not worth anything to think about the game against Atletico if we don't beat Elche."

Barca coach Gerardo Martino, whose future has been in the spotlight again this week with speculation linking Luis Enrique with the post, has a doubt over the fitness of playmaker Xavi but full-back Dani Alves should be fine to feature.

Elche moved three points clear of the drop zone with their 1-0 win at Malaga last time out and they could secure their top-flight futures if results go their way in the penultimate round of matches.

With their last two games coming against Barca and in-form Sevilla, last season's Segunda Division champions know they are not out of the woods yet, but defender Damian Suarez hopes they can banish their fears this weekend.

He said: "Our fans deserve many years in the Primera Division and it would be nice to secure survival with them here on Sunday.

"We have our strengths and it's important that we depend on ourselves."

Elche will be without goalkeeper Tono and defender Alberto Botia through suspension following their red cards against Malaga.

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