Iniesta: We couldn't afford to let Madrid challenge

The 29-year-old believes Barcelona could ill-afford to give their old the belief that they could successfully defend their Liga title this season

Andres Iniesta admits Barcelona would have had “big problems” this season had they let Real Madrid play their way into contention for the Liga title.

The Catalan giants have held a commanding lead over Jose Mourinho’s men for much of the season and, having clinched their crown of Spain on Saturday due to the Blancos’ draw at Espanyol, the Spaniard believes the Blaugrana’s consistency stemmed from a fear of letting their rivals fight their way into the title-race.

“The happiness levels in the squad are huge,” he told reporters after the 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

“It has been a very long year and we have had to remained focused from start to finish because we would have had big problems if we let Madrid challenge.”

The victory over Diego Simeone’s side propelled the Liga giants to 91 points with three games to play and, having wrapped up the title, Gerard Pique says his team-mates now have a new goal for the remainder of the season.

“To get 100 points would be very nice,” he added.

“It gives us a reason to put on the shirt for the next three games.”

Barcelona continue their quest for the record-breaking points total by hosting Valladolid at Camp Nou on Sunday.

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