Luis Enrique previewed tomorrow’s league meeting with Atlético – a game which may not define Barça’s domestic campaign but will be crucial to both sides as the competition enters a critical stage. The coach had a full squad to work with on the eve of the game; he also spoke about Neymar’s impending contract renewal and confirmed that the Brazilian is fit to start at Camp Nou on Saturday.
How have you been preparing for this meeting with Atlético? “With all the excitement which goes with facing one of your direct rivals. It’s an important game in terms of the league title race because now all of the critical facets start coming into play – the head-to-head results, goal average... etc. Everyone’s keen to see a good game of football and to see Camp Nou packed to the rafters and cheering the team on”.
How are Neymar and Jordi Alba? “Neymar and Jordi Alba are both fine; I’ll pass on your best regards to them”.
Is there any risk in fielding Neymar? Have you considered resting him? “He took a knock to his foot. It would be just as risky not to field him – they’d kill me. Do you get my drift? He won’t be rested just for a knock, he’ll play”.
Neymar says he admires Guardiola and would love to work with him one day. What do you make of that? “He’s got exquisite taste”.
What’s behind Simeone’s success? “All of the successes he has gained and how he achieved them are there for all to see. Maybe the key has been the players, his methods and his way of seeing and understanding football. We can all see that he is a very successful coach and quite clearly, one of the best in the world today”.
Is tomorrow’s game decisive in the title race? “There’s not much between the teams at the top of the table and I think it will continue that way. Independently of the result tomorrow, any team can suddenly complicate things for you, and we have a long way to go yet. Tomorrow’s match isn’t decisive at all”.
Neymar said yesterday that he has to study every detail concerning his contract renewal. Do you think he’s being a bit demanding? “Then he’ll have to look closely at everything so that he stays for many years at Barça. I was spot on about him renewing his contract, wasn’t I? Remind me when it happens”.