Luis Enrique has played down the significance of Barcelona's Clasico loss to Real Madrid, saying his team were still in pole position for the La Liga title. Goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real a 2-1 win at Camp Nou on 2 April, after Gerard Pique had given the home side the lead with a powerful header in the 56th minute.

Sergio Ramos was sent-off late in the match, but a tired-looking Barca could not muster a response as their 39-game unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end. It also meant the Catalan giants' lead at the top of the league table was cut to six points, with seven games left to play in the season.

"What happened to us can happen in any game. We managed the game well for the most part [but] the first goal damaged us," Enrique was quoted as saying by Catalan daily Sport. "It's unfortunate to lose a game at home. You don't choose when you lose and it had to be today.

"We're league leaders and the title will be won by the team that is the most consistent. We will try to be that team," he said.

'No excuses'

Enrique refused to blame the international break that forced his South American attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to travel half way around the world to join their respective national teams.

"I don't like to look for excuses. Sometimes you have to play with these circumstances, with travel around the world because we have the best players in the world. You have to compete in these competitions.

Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez was off-colour as 10-man Real held on to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp AFP

"This game no longer exists. Now there is no pain or anything. We been through a lot of games without losing, but defeat also teaches you things. All competitions are difficult, my players knew that. This can happen when you rival has quality like you," he continued.

Barcelona host Real's local rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on 5 April.