Pique pessimistic as Barcelona draw gives Real Madrid chance at title

Gerard Pique fears for Barcelona's hopes of winning La Liga this season after their goalless draw at Sevilla FC on Friday handed the advantage to Real Madrid.

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The tussle for the title is still hanging by a knife-edge but Madrid can return to the top of the table if they win at Real Sociedad on Sunday. With eight games remaining, Zinedine Zidane's side would be level on points with Barca, but would lead the way thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

"I think it's going to be very difficult to win this league," a dejected Pique told Movistar after the draw at the Sanchez Pizjuan. "It's not in our hands anymore. We're going to give everything possible, but I don't imagine many points are going to be dropped."

Madrid had sent Barcelona a warning on Thursday with a stunning second-half performance as they beat Valencia 3-0. However, Valencia had a goal controversially ruled out in the first half after a VAR review when the score was goalless.

"Seeing what we've seen in the last two rounds of fixtures, it will be complicated," Pique said in an apparent nod to that decision when asked if he could see Madrid slipping up.

"It's difficult to see Madrid dropping points -- and we have not been able to [beat Sevilla]. After three games now, it's going to be difficult to see [the top teams] losing points, but we will try."

Barca coach Quique Setien tried to strike a more optimistic tone than Pique in his post-game news conference, predicting more twists and turns before anything is decided as the Catalans target a third straight title.

"It's the frustration of the moment," he said of Pique's comments. "Above all because in the first half we were very good. Maybe the sensations aren't positive right now, but I'm sure he will see it differently tomorrow. I don't think Madrid are going to win all their games.

"I don't think we need to dramatise the situation. I have seen a lot of games, there are a lot of points to be played for and all the games have been competitive. We just have to focus on how we can improve."

Next up for Barca are Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou on Tuesday, before games against Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid. After Real Sociedad, Madrid host Mallorca before travelling to Espanyol.

Lionel Messi came close to opening the scoring against Sevilla with a free-kick that was headed off the line, while Luis Suarez, making his first start since January, struck over the bar late on.

Sevilla had chances, too, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen forced to make saves from Lucas Ocampos and Munir El Haddadi. The home team coach, Julen Lopetegui, felt his side deserved to win as they looked to strengthen their grip on third place in the table.

"We wanted the three points and I thought we improved as the game went on," he said. "In the second half we were on top and, on balance, we were superior to Barca. I don't remember them having any chances."