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Luis Enrique was speaking to the press on Saturday morning / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Luis Enrique has given his final press conference before the start of the 2014/15 league season, where he commented that “it has been a great week in terms of the team dynamic and we are going into the game in the same buoyant mood as we did before the Gamper. We know Elche will pose us problems because tactically and defensively they’re such a well-structured unit.” The game kicks off on Sunday night at 9.00 PM CET in the Camp Nou.

The first team manager went on to say that “we may have high hopes for the future, but we’re more concerned with the present, and that means the game with Elche. We’re mentally prepared for this and keen to get our league campaign off to a winning start.”"e may have high hopes for the future, but we’re more concerned with the present, and that means the game with ElcheHe wished to make it clear to the press that this season I’ll not be announcing my line-up until an hour and a half before each match. I need fierce competition between my players and I want them all to feel that they’re potential starters.” He also said that the team, as long as it’s practical, will be travelling to away fixtures on the morning of each match, his reasoning being that the more time the players get to spend with the families, the better it is for everybody.

He claims to already have his starting eleven against Elche worked out, but refused to reveal any details. He was also candid with his remarks regarding Pedro and Neymar. The former has only just recovered from gastroenteritis and the latter has a minor sprain in his ankle. “On Sunday we’ll know exactly how they’re feeling” he said. “But in principle I’m counting on them both.”Atlético are the defending champions, and so out of respect they have to be considered title favouritesHe was also asked to comment on the two sides expected to once again present the strongest challenge to Barça, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, who met in the Spanish Super Cup this week, with the former emerging as winners. “Atlético are the defending champions, and so out of respect they have to be considered title favourites” he said. “They have the same ideas as they did last season, and have maybe even perfected them. Before the league had started last year, I thought they looked like a clear contender for the title, and I also think they’ll do well in the Champions League again. As for Real Madrid, they’re our eternal rival and have made some very good signings too”.

But his main focus is Barça of course, and in that respect “we are going into this with the resolve of a team that won nothing last year, and nobody will beat us in terms of hope and determination.”

Luis Enrique finished by confirming that “Messi is in perfect condition. Like all his team-mates, he’s looking forward to the chance for reconciliation in the form of results.” And the first opportunity to start doing that will come on Sunday night at the Camp Nou.


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