Luis Enrique was speaking to press ahead of the game with Sevilla / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Luis Enrique spoke to the press on Friday ahead of Saturday’s Liga fixture with Sevilla at the Camp Nou (8.00 PM CET). The first team manager says he’s expecting a tough game against the side currently fifth in the table. “They push high up the field and will make it difficult for us to start moves” he commented. “They work hard on their strategy and get the ball out to the wings quickly. Unai Emery is making his mark at Sevilla.” That said, Emery has never managed a side to victory against Barça, a statistic that Luis Enrique prefers to ignore. No matter what the outcomes of those matches, he says, “both at Valencia and now at Sevilla he has always made things very hard for Barça.”It's important for us that Denis Suárez and Gerard Deulofeu are getting to play regular football at Sevilla

Sevilla have two players currently on loan from Barcelona, Denis Suárez and Gerard Deulofeu, both of whom have won regular places in the Andalusian starting eleven and are likely to feature on Saturday. “They are both doing well, and it’s important for us that they are getting to play a lot of games” commented Luis Enrique. “That’s precisely why we sent them there.”

The manager was also asked whether he was worried that the team has leaked goals in its last three matches. “There will always be ups and downs over the course of a season” he replied. “But you must remember that we still have the best defensive record in the league, and that’s something that needs stressing.”

Asked how he feels about fortnights like these when most of players have been away on international duty, Luis Enrique commented that “it’s very hard in such situations to deal with general team things and match situations. Instead you focus on more individual matters regarding each player … But it’s not that the other players have been inactive. They have all been training and competing for their national teams, so they haven’t lost their rhythm. Although in the friendly internationals this week, a lot of our players were rested and that’s something to be thankful for”.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Luis Enrique agreed that “there is never much margin for error at Barça. And this is going to be a very tight competition with about five teams in contention for the title, so we have to be more careful than ever not to drop points. Last season, it looked like Atlético had the title won, but in the end it went down to the last game.”Leo Messi has only ever told me that he’s delighted to be at Barça

Questions have been asked in the press this week about Leo Messi and his future at the club, but Luis Enrique feels that things have been taken out of context. “Leo has only ever told me that he’s delighted to be at Barça” he said. As in previous press conferences, he refused to discuss the details of personal matters regarding his players, saying that “what is said in the dressing room is to be kept behind closed doors and dealt with internally.”

He ended by assuming, following three weeks without a game at the Camp Nou, that the supporters will respond on Saturday as they always have. “There is no doubt in my mind that the Barça fans will be getting behind the team” he said.

Luis Enrique relishing Sevilla test by fcbarcelona
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