Quique Setien has seen Barcelona knocked off the top of the table in Spain but remains convinced leaders Real Madrid will slip-up during the title run-in.
The two teams have seven games left to play and are locked on 68 points. Real Madrid is in first place courtesy of a superior head-to-head record and looking for a first title since 2017.
Setien spoke about the title race in his pre-match press conference on Friday and thinks it will be difficult for Real Madrid to win all their remaining fixtures.
“I’m still convinced [Real Madrid will drop points] of course. We’ve got seven more games to play and it’s very difficult for a side like Madrid, or us, to win every single game. We’ve drawn one, they still haven’t, but football is a game that sometimes surprises us. They are in good form, just like we are in many ways, but anything can happen. Of course I aspire and trust they will make a mistake at some point.
“I think it’s very tough to win every game with how every team is and the quality there is. I think that’s what will happen. Maybe it won’t. We might lose, both of us might lose. We could reach the end having won every game and something unexpected happens on the final day.”
Both teams are away from home at the weekend. Barcelona travel to Balaidos to face Celta Vigo on Saturday, while Real Madrid take on Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday.
Setien Aware of Celta Threat
Setien also spoke about the threat Celta Vigo will pose his side when the two teams meet on Saturday. Oscar Garcia’s team ran out 1-0 winners against high-flying Real Sociedad last time out and will not lack for confidence.
“Every team would like to defend well and get a lot of people back which is usually when you defend best and also get the ball and try to attack well. I think that’s what Celta will try and do. I think in their last three games they haven’t conceded, that shows they are doing a good job.
“In attack, they are a side who have a lot of talent, who have players who are able to play well with the ball and who have that inspiration at times that makes them different. We all know their players are very clever and can make things tough for us. It’s a game that in theory, we will find difficult. I hope we can win but I’m sure there will be difficulties definitely.”
Celta will also be buoyed by news that coach Garcia has extended his stay with the club. The Galicians announced on Friday he has signed a two-year extension, and the boss knows Barcelona well having spent 15 years at the club as a player.
Barcelona Without Key Players
Barcelona will also be without some key players for the trip to Celta. Midfielder Sergio Busquets is ruled out through suspension for yellow card accumulation after picking up his 10th booking of the season in the midweek win over Athletic.
Netherlands international Frenkie de Jong is also ruled out with a calf injury. The absences will test the strength of Setien’s squad, particularly in midfield.
Starlet Riqui Puig could be handed his first La Liga start of the season, while Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, and Arthur are also available for the match.