Celta will always have a special place in Luis Enriques heart / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ

The run-in to the end of the season is upon us, and Luis Enrique is staying cautious. “All games are important” he said at his Saturday press conference. “It makes no difference if they come before or after an international break. From now on, there won’t be any easy opponents. Celta will be dangerous because they need points and the championship is getting near to the end.”

The current Barça manager was in charge at Balaídos last season, and explained that "I am really looking forward to going back. It will always be a very special place for me. Vigo means a lot to me, and only in a positive way. I got to know a new club and a very special group of players. It was a very positive year for Celta and for me. Those were unforgettable memories.”

He was specifically asked about former FCB man Nolito, who is now at the Galician club. "He’s a very ambitious, hard-working player who can score goals and provide assists” he replied. “But Celta are strong in so many other departments too. They play the ball around well and are very good at getting the ball out from the back. They play good football, and it’s nice to watch. They’re having a great year, and I’m really happy for them.”

Messi ready to play

Quizzed about Leo Messi and his fitness, the Asturian insisted that there is nothing to worry about. “He has trained for the last two day and I have no reason to doubt that he can play on Sunday” he said. “We knew he had taken a knock, and that it didn’t happen against Madrid. Sometimes these problems go away quickly and sometimes things get more problematic. But we didn’t arrange anything special with the Argentinian coaches. It was a decision made by the player and his coach. Since he’s been back, he’s trained normally. He’s fully recovered.”

Final countdown

On the ten remaining league matches, Luis Enrique insists that “I think it’s highly unlikely that any of the four teams still in contention for the title will win all of their remaining games. Of course, I might be wrong, and if I am then I hope I’m wrong about Barça!”

He was also asked to explain why his teams tend to get better as seasons progress. "If we can end the season even better than we started it, then so much the better” he said. “But that’s all part of the process when a club switches manager. Experience has told me about that process and I’ve seen how it happens. But there is no magic formula. It’s simply a question of working hard. We always aim to find ways to make the team better.”

As for his objectives in the three different competitions, the first team manager said that "all titles are nice to win and have their difficulties. There is no need to set weird targets, just to treat each of the competitions as importantly as the others. It’s basically a matter of carrying on doing what we have already been doing all season.”