Pep salutes 'champions'
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola hailed Real Madrid as the new Spanish champions after his side lost 2-1 to their bitter rivals at Camp Nou on Saturday.
The defeat left Madrid seven points clear with just four games left and comfortably within reach of their first La Liga title since 2008 and their 32nd in history.
"I congratulate Real Madrid for their victory and also for their league title which I have no doubt they have clinched tonight," said Guardiola, whose side had won the last three league titles.
"We played a good match, but it wasn't good enough. We played the kind of game that we needed to play but we just couldn't do it."
Guardiola also defended his decision to start the game with Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas on the bench.
"I selected the team which I thought had the best chance to defeat Madrid and, anyway, the losers are always wrong," he said. "Now we have to look to the future."
That was a reference to Tuesday's Champions League semi-final against Chelsea when the Spanish giants will attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first game at Stamford Bridge last week.
"Tonight, the players are sad, they are tired, but in their careers they have all faced similar situations and overcome them."