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Luis Enrique: "Atleti aren't slipping, the title race's still on"

The Barça coach didn't want to talk about the going-ons at Real Madrid: "I'll just say that I have a unique dressing room;and our doctors are very good".


Luis Enrique spoke to the press on Wednesday, ahead of tomorrow's trip to Rayo Vallecano with Atlético now trailing by five points after their win over Real Sociedad last night. The coach treated reporters to a soundbite: “Atlético aren't slipping up and they're improving, the title race is still on” but didn't want to talk about friction in the Madrid dressing room.

Do the team's recent results in Vallecas give cause to feel optimisitic? “I am not taking anything for granted as far as tomorrow's game at Rayo is concerned - whether we play them at home or away. We already know how complicated it will be - for the identity which Rayo have and for the kind of coach who Paco is. We're in for a complicated game. These tend to be open, uncomfortable games. Independently of the result, I am expecteing an uncomfortable match”.

The teams are the bottom have started winning their matches. Do that complicate the remaining fixtures? “I don't know if it's more danerousor not, but for pure statistics, it's clear that from now on, matches are going to get a lot tougher.There are a lot of teams involved in the relegation battle and now they're coming good. Any of the teams in the three bottom places could end up surviving”.

In which position does Arda Turan feel most comfortable? “Basically, he can play through the middle or as a free-roaming winger. He's played in both of those roles and done well. The defensive and attacking objective in both positions are different but that's not a problem for him”.

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Atleti have reduced the distance between Barça to just five points, is the pressure on? “We're always under pressure because the three-point system means that if you get caught napping, you'll pay a heavy price. Atleti ae slipping up - they're improving and the title race is on, at no point have we ever said otherwise”.

Can you see Messi, Neymar and Suárez playing together in all of the remaining games? “I haven't thought about it, we'll see. I'll do whatever I deem fit”.

Why have Barça avoiding an injury crisis at this point of the campaign? “I don't know. I suppose there isn't just one reason. Our medical services are excellent. There's no reason to start evaluating injury problems when you don't have any, or when you do”.

El rendimiento de Mathieu, más asentado. ¿Lo ve así? “Lo veo muy bien. Ha jugado más como central pero puede hacerlo también como lateral. Para mí fue un gran refuerzo la temporada pasada. Central rapidísimo, buen dominio de balón, buen físico”.

When the team has gone 34 games without defeat, what is your main worry? “The only worry I have is that we have a match every two or three days. I have a unique saud, a very different squad, our day to day work is very easy with them, we all get along perfectly and we continue to enjoy our football”.

What qualitites can Barça take from Rayo? “They are an inspiration to us in many ways. Their love for attacking football Rayo is a philosophy which I share. Paco Jémez was a centre-back from the old school and I love his philosophy as a coach. I would have loved to have had a coach with his philosophy when I was a player. I identify a lot with him”.


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