Real Madrid are leading the way in Spain at the moment but Barcelona head coach Quique Setien does not think his team are outsiders.
Barcelona head coach Quique Setien does not believe Real Madrid should be considered favourites for LaLiga glory this season.
Madrid hold a three-point advantage at the summit over Barca, who have struggled for their best form since Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde last month.
Valverde and Barca won the previous two titles, with the Blaugrana also collecting four of the past five either side of Zinedine Zidane’s sole domestic success in 2016-17.
Setien feels the Clasico showdown at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 1 could yet prove to be pivotal.
“Many league titles have been decided on details, in final minutes, in situations that neither of the two teams are able to control,” he told a news conference.
“We’re just as much favourites as Real Madrid. They have got a three-point advantage but we’ve got a game there at the Bernabeu and when that moment comes we’ve got a lot of expectation.
“We know the importance of the game and of course we’ll go all out for it.”
First, Barca must negotiate a game that might turn a two-way battle into a three-horse race.
Getafe travel to Camp Nou on Saturday sitting third in the table, seven points shy of their hosts but enjoying another exceptional season on the back of a surprise fifth-place finish in 2018-19.
Setien has previously clashed with Jose Bordalas over Getafe’s direct style of play and, while he declined to discuss a feuding relationship with his opposite number that dates back to their respective tenures in charge of Segunda Division sides Lugo and Alcorcon, he praised their impressive progress.
“It’s clear that we have two different styles. Barca have been playing like this for years, Getafe are playing the way they have been for years,” he said.
“The important thing is your plan and way of doing it overcomes the opposition
“We’re clear in what we’re playing for and how we play. What you have to do, you must to well and I think both of us do that.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 14, 2020
On whether Getafe might become a direct rival in LaLiga this term, Setien suggested their forthcoming Europa League obligations – an intriguing last-32 showdown with Ajax – could be a complicating factor.
“The difficult thing for every club is to stay at the top. I don’t know if it’s us and Madrid or Getafe [as well], who are on a great run.” said the Barca boss.
“The difficult thing is to keep up that run. There are some difficult games coming up for them in Europe that might take something out of their power in LaLiga.
“Getafe last year stayed up there and this year they’re still up there. I don’t know if this form is going to be enough to catch us and Real Madrid but we have to consider them rivals.”