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Spanish Football: Expect Barcelona to bounce back

Lionel Messi and co have not become a bad team overnight

"Heading into their round-of-16 match with Milan, it's easy to forget that Barca had only lost a single game in their last 22, a sequence which produced no fewer than 17 wins."

After a double Clasico whammy and defeat in the Champions League, Barcelona find themselves in the middle of a crisis, or do they? Christian Crowther discusses...

Three losses in the space of four games has thrown a sizeable spanner in the works of Barcelona's season, of that there is no doubt.

However, losing a game at the San Siro to an AC Milan team in the midst of a real surge and being beaten twice by a team of the calibre of Real Madrid does not, as some would suggest, spell the beginning of the end for this great Barcelona side.

Heading into their round-of-16 match with Milan, it's easy to forget that Barca had only lost a single game in their last 22, a sequence which produced no fewer than 17 wins.

It's also worth noting that Tito Vilanova's side are still 11 points clear in the title race, despite losing to their bitter rivals for the second time in the space of five days on Saturday.

Like Milan, Jose Mourinho's Madrid side took a long time to get going this season, having both written themselves out of their respective title races early on as a result.

However, as Barcelona found out to their peril, both sides are now at the peak of their season's powers and this has meant Barca getting punished for being a little off colour in those matches.

Given Real were so far behind in La Liga, it's not hard to see where their extra motivation came from in both trying to win the Copa del Rey and recoup some respect by closing the gap on with three points at home.

It's true that the Catalans are probably missing their coach's presence while he continues to receive cancer treatment in the US, but a slight dip in performance levels does not make a great team bad overnight.

Expect Barca to bounce back against Deportivo and don't be surprised to see them pull off a second-leg spectacular against Milan at the Camp Nou to qualify - a prospect rated at 2.466/4.

Another offshoot of Real's revival is their season-long battle with city rivals Atletico. Diego Simeone's side raced away from their illustrious neighbours earlier in the season and have remained in second since the fifth week of the season.

However, a return of just one away La Liga win from their last seven has seen Real steadily close the gap, which now stands at just two points.

The market now reflects the feeling that Atletico have cracked under the pressure, leading Mourinho's men to be installed as the 1.222/9 favourites in the w/o Barcelona market.

Atletico's best chance to secure the bragging rights may well come in the Copa del Rey final showdown between the capital's finest. They are currently rated at 3.55n/a to take home the trophy.

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04 March 2013

Spanish Football

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