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Tue 5 Feb 2008 08:08 AM

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Rijkaard calm as Barca prepare for Sevilla

Frank Rijkaard has played down the significance of Barca moving to within six points of Real Madrid.

Barcelona players celebrated their 1-0 win over Osasuna on Sunday as if they had won the league title but manager Frank Rijkaard tried to play down the significance of the result and the fact that they closed to within six points of leaders Real Madrid.

Champions Real had lost 2-0 to Almeria on Saturday and it was pivotal that Barcelona responded but they needed an 88th minute winner from substitute Xavi to narrow the gap.

"This victory is great for our morale," said Frank Rijkaard. "I am not looking at (Real) Madrid too much to be honest. They have the advantage and are the best at the moment but I am not focusing on them."

Barcelona can bask in a late win that could prove a turning point in their title charge but their credentials will be tested next weekend when they face a daunting trip to Sevilla, who have already beaten Real 2-0 this season.

There are 16 games left to play this season and Rijkaard is convinced that Real won't be able to maintain their current form until the end of the season. "I don't think Real are going to win all their remaining matches so we will have the opportunity to reduce the gap," explained Rijkaard.

"We have the desire and quality to become champions this season. We are fighting in three competitions and we will not give up in any of them.

"We have at lot to fight for - the Kings Cup, trying to win the Champions League again and of course the league."Barcelona are in the semi-finals of the domestic cup and the last 16 of the Champions League where they will face Celtic over two legs with the first leg on February 20.

Barcelona's problem this season has been breaking down teams that defend in numbers - something they experienced against Osasuna too - and Rijkaard called for his players to be more direct.

"The majority of teams play like Chelsea," said Rijkaard. "They are organised and don't allow much space."

"It is important to be direct when you steal possession. We need to exploit the space when the opposition are disorganised."

Aside from their inability to break down teams another concern for Rijkaard has been the form of Brazilian Ronaldinho who continues to start on the substitutes bench as he steps up his fitness.

"Ronaldinho is getting his fitness back but we have to be calm and not expect too much because he needs time," added Rijkaard.

Ronaldinho celebrated his 200th appearance for Barca when he came on for Lionel Messi in the 68th minute of the Osasuna win.

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