Barca taking Rayo challenge seriously

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Pep Guardiola is refusing to take the challenge of Rayo Vallecano lightly after Barcelona's shock defeat to Getafe on Saturday night.

The La Liga champions slipped six points behind current league leaders Real Madrid over the weekend, with Jose Mourinho's side beating Atletico 4-1 to stretch their advantage at the top of the table.

And, with 'El Clasico' less than two weeks away, attentions could easily turn to the clash at the Santiago Bernabeu. But Guardiola insists his players will be full focused on the task at hand tonight.

"The challenge isn't to cut Real Madrid's six-point lead, but rather to represent this club and perform the best we can," Guardiola said pre-match.

"We know that Madrid is going to be tough to beat, but we will give it our all until the very last day just like we have since the first."

Guardiola also engaged in what appeared to be some mind games ahead of this season's first meeting between the two powerhouses of Spanish football.

In an effort to take the pressure off his side, the Barca boss insisted it's Madrid who are desperate to win the title this term after three successive victories at the Nou Camp.

"Madrid is putting maximum importance on each game because it hasn't won this competition in a while," he added.

"My idea of sport is to respect all adversaries. That is why I said that Getafe was a good team and why I say the same thing about Rayo."

Guardiola may well have to be on his guard, with Rayo coach Jose Sandoval insisting his side will stick to their attacking philosophy in Catalonia tonight.

"This is like a bullfight. Either you are carried out on the shoulders of the crowd as the big winner, or you end up in the emergency room. You have to be brave."

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