Atlético Madrid game not definitive claims Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique is well aware that Atlético Madrid will be a stern test for his players / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The FC Barcelona manager speaks to the press the day before the top two teams in La Liga go head to head, but insists that it’s still early days as far as the title is concerned

Intense fixtures

Barça have a packed fixture list ahead, but Luis Enrique is not using that as excuse for tomorrow. As he rightly points out “Atlético have the same calendar as we do and they also have Champions League games on the horizon. It’s the same for both of us.”

Speaking the day before Barça entertain Atlético in a crucial Liga fixture and moments after learning that his side will face Valencia in the Copa del Rey semi-final, Luis Enrique preferred to focus on the first of the two matches in his Friday press conference.

“We are looking forward to a good match and hope the Camp Nou fills to support the team as it always does” said the FCB manager. “But this is not a definitive game. Regardless of what happens, it’ll still be tight at the top.”

Barça have never lost to Atlético since the Asturian has been in charge, but as far as the man himself is concerned “those were only good results because we played so well. Atlético are a tough team and tomorrow we’ll need to forget about whatever results we have had against them in the past … We’ll have to play a complete game from the first to the 95th minute.”

Luis Enrique also confirmed that neither Jordi Alba nor Neymar Jr are carrying serious injuries. Asked whether it might be prudent to rest the Brazilian, he retorted that “he only took a small knock. Perhaps the most imprudent thing would be not to play him. He’d kill me! He’ll play for sure!”

He was also quizzed as to whether he thought that Atlético’s midweek elimination from the cup might have a bearing in some way on the outcome at the Camp Nou. “Before a game of this magnitude, I don’t think it makes any difference who qualified or not in the cup” he answered.

And still on the subject of the Copa del Rey, and being drawn against Valencia in the semis, Luis Enrique commented that “any of the teams we could have played would have made life difficult for us. We lost to two of them and drew with the other.”