Title decider talk too early for Barcelona boss
Barcelona: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique dismissed suggestions his side will have the La Liga title in their grasp with victory over closest challengers Atletico Madrid on Saturday. The European champions are level with Atletico on 48 points at the top of the table, but have a game in hand on Diego Simeone's men, and could also move seven points clear of Real Madrid with a win at the Camp Nou.
"I don't feel like we'll be halfway towards the title if we win tomorrow," said Enrique. "There is a long way to go. The game against Atletico is important, but not key or decisive." Enrique has overseen a turnaround in fortunes for Barca in this fixture as he has won all five games against Atletico since taking charge at the beginning of last season.
Previously, Atletico had gone six matches unbeaten against Barca - culminating in the 1-1 draw that saw them win La Liga in 2014. "Those statistics are there because my players have been at a very high level," added Enrique. "They've been concentrated, intense and close to perfection. If we lower our standards in those aspects, Atletico have the chance to beat us.
"Playing Atletico is always a tough game. We need to repeat what we did last season. Be reliable in attack and make sure we don't allow them transitions to counter-attack or set-pieces." Barca look set to be at full-strength as Enrique confirmed Neymar will start despite suffering a knock late on in Wednesday's 3-1 Copa del Rey win over Athletic Bilbao, whilst Jordi Alba has returned to training following a hamstring problem.
Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets are expected to return after being rested in midweek, whilst Arda Turan should feature for the first time against his old club since sealing a 41 million euro move ($45 million, Â£31 million) to Barca last July. Turan has settled easily into the Barca side despite having to wait until earlier this month to make his debut due to the Catalans' one-year ban on registering new players.
And Enrique believes the Turkish international is better suited to Barca than Atletico's energetic, but less technical style of play. "His style of player prefers to have the ball than not have it and adapting to a team that has the ball favours him," he added. "He also had the advantage of training with us for five months. Any player that enjoys having the ball finds it easier to adapt to our system."