Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has refused to rule out the challenge of Barcelona in the race for the La Liga title.

Los Blancos opened up a seven-point lead on their great rivals over the weekend, winning 3-1 against Real Zaragoza at the Santiago Bernabeu before Pep Guardiola's side struggled to a 0-0 draw against Villarreal at El Madrigal.

Barca keeper Victor Valdes has since claimed the Catalan giants will need to win all 18 of their remaining games to retain the crown for a fourth consecutive season, while sections of the Spanish press have written off the European champions.

However, 'the special one' doesn't go along with that theory, and insists Barcelona remain a huge threat in the race for the domestic honour.

"Is seven points a lot? The press might think so, but I disagree," Mourinho told Lusa during an interview.

"The people who write that we are the new champions and that Barcelona can't bounce back are the same people who previously tried to create divisions and conflicts at Madrid.

"They will claim that we are in crisis again as soon as we spill points again. They're the ones trying to undermine the balance at Madrid. I am calm though and ready to deal with anything good or bad."

Mourinho will be eager to avoid dropping points in Madrid's next match, when the last season's runners-up travel to Getafe on Saturday.

As for Barca, they face Valencia in a Copa del Rey semi-final tomorrow night, having knocked out Madrid over two-legs in the last eight of the competition.

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