Jordi Roura / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The day before Barça restart their league campaign with a mouth-watering local derby against Espanyol, Jordi Roura confirmed that this Sunday in the Camp Nou, "Tito will be on the bench". He revealed: "He still has to undergo treatment but he is in good spirits and very strong, and that’s the important thing”. Speaking at the pre-match press conference, he admitted it was a role he hoped he wouldn’t have to take too often. “It’s not a normal situation but it has to be done. I’m looking forward to not coming (to a press conference) so often because that will mean that Tito is here".

No complacency

Roura believes that Sunday’s match against Espanyol will be complicated despite the big gap between the two sides in the league table: "We’re hungry and hopeful going into the derby but we know these matches can be very difficult. They’re always tricky because of the rivalry…and we’re coming back from the (Christmas) break and picking up the pace again isn’t easy”.

"We have to try and make a good start and carry on the way we were before the break”. In spite of a 9-point lead over second placed Atletico Madrid and the 16 points separating Barça from Real Madrid in third place, Roura warned that the race for the league title isn’t over. “There’s a long way to go. We have to take it one game at a time and win all our matches. We know we’ll have to lose, but the later that is, the better”.

Espanyol and Aguirre

He also told reporters that the arrival of Javier Aguirre as Espanyol manager had forced the Barça coaching staff to change their preparations for the derby. “We’ve had to take a look at their recent matches and there’s no doubt that they’ve changed for the better since he came in”.