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Football: Barcelona excited by own form, not Atletico slip-ups, says Koeman

Football: Barcelona excited by own form, not Atletico slip-ups, says Koeman

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman during the match. (Photo: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

BARCELONA: Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman says his side are motivated by their own improvements and not by their faltering title rivals as they eye a victory at home to Huesca on Monday which would close the gap on La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid to four points.

Atletico were held 0-0 at Getafe on Saturday and have dropped 11 points in their last eight matches, while Barca have won seven of their last eight.

Koeman's side are third in the standings behind Real Madrid but will climb above them with victory over bottom side Huesca.

"We cannot laugh at the others, first of all we have to look at ourselves and focus on winning tomorrow. The team is very motivated at the moment, but not because of our rivals' results, because of ourselves," Koeman told a news conference on Sunday.

"We are playing with a lot of energy and the team is in incredible physical shape. But tomorrow will be a difficult game. Huesca may be last but they'll come here to play and put us under pressure and we'll have to be focused."

The Catalans bowed out of the Champions League with their pride intact after a spirited display in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Paris St Germain and can now focus on their bid for a domestic double, having booked their place in next month's Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.

On a run of 13 wins in 16 league games, Barca are in the best form of the three title challengers.

"We know from experience it's not easy to stay at this pace and maintain this level of quality. Today the sun is shining, but tomorrow it could rain," Koeman said.

Sunday's game will be another historic occasion for Lionel Messi, who is set to equal Xavi Hernandez's record of 767 matches in all competitions for Barca and will soon become the club's highest all-time appearance maker in addition to their top scorer and most decorated player.

"The fact he is about to equal Xavi's number of games is incredible. But you also have to look at all the goals he has scored and the trophies he has lifted. Everything he has done is remarkable," Koeman added.

Source: Reuters

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