With FC Barcelona showing few signs of relenting in their quest to win a 22nd Liga title, coach Tito Vilanova did his best to quell the mounting expectation surrounding his side following Sunday's 4-1 victory against title rivals Club Atlético de Madrid.
Visiting coach Diego Simeone failed to win in four appearances at the Camp Nou as a player with Atlético and Sevilla FC but the 42-year-old's hopes of ending that run were raised after in-form striker Falcao deftly scored his 17th Liga goal of the campaign on 31 minutes. However, a spectacular strike from Adriano, followed by a Sergio Busquets effort before the break and Lionel Messi's double in the second half left Simeone lamenting: "Barça play in a different league to the rest."
Having surpassed Real Madrid CF's 1991/92 record for the best start to a Liga campaign at the beginning of December, Barcelona have since chalked up their 15th top-flight win while amassing 46 points from a possible 48. With second-placed Atlético now nine points behind and Madrid 13 off the pace after a 2-2 draw at home to RCD Espanyol, few are predicting against the leaders regaining a title Vilanova insists is still a long way from being decided.
"I'm sure it's not going to be easy," he said. "I'm quite certain that in some games we are going to struggle or have to produce a fightback and we will drop points. Club Atlético de Madrid are a side that need to be taken into account. They made things really difficult for us at the beginning of the match tonight. They showed in that first half why they are in the position they are in Liga.
Real Madrid and Atlético will push us until the end."
Despite seeing his side suffer their third Liga reverse of the campaign, Simeone said he would take positives from an encounter in which he was "happy with how my team played." He added: "We put in the perfect first half and created three chances, scoring one. We managed to close off all avenues where they might have caused us dama e but then, with a cracking goal from Adriano, they drew level.
In the second half, we simply couldn't do what we did in the first and against the sheer force they have, it was impossible."
Meanwhile Madrid coach José Mourinho conceded his team's chances of retaining the title were "practically impossible" after Sunday's results. "We are talking about  points and in December, that's a lot. If we can improve in Liga, that will help us to get better in the Copa del Rey and the [UEFA] Champions League. If we want to have a chance to win either of those competitions, we must be stronger."
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