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FC Barcelona face Alavés away at 4.15pm CET on Saturday in the 22nd LaLiga fixture of the season. The blaugranas have secured their place in the Copa del Rey final, as have Alavés for that matter. Luis Enrique spoke of this coincidence: “The fact we are going to play the Copa final against them in May is something which has nothing to do with tomorrow’s game.”

Barça’s coach emphasised the opposition’s strengths by recognising: “Aláves are the revelation of the season without a doubt, because of what they are achieving and how they are doing it. Their points total, their consistency, their position in the table….and all of this as a team who have just come up from the second division and have a new coach. They are getting some spectacular results by playing at a great level in both the league and the cup.”

Luis Enrique analysed Pellegrino’s team stating they're “a dangerous side with Deyverson as a centre forward supported by Ibai and Toquero. On the wings, they have Theo and Kiko and behind that they have a great midfield in Manu and Marcos, who are great players. The team works hard and are 100% motivated. It will be a difficult match.”

He added: “In El Molinón they rotated a lot so they could be in good shape for the Copa and it worked perfectly as they won both games. In spite of the extra days rest we are coming off the back of thirteen intense games. It isn’t an excuse, it’s the reality and we will do our best.”

The blaugrana coach also cast his memory back to the game against the Basques at the Camp Nou earlier in the season which Barça lost 2-1: “We know they are a team who have caused us problems and could do so again. At our ground they did so with a system they haven’t used since, with a five in defence but normally they play a 4-2-3-1. We’ll see what Pellegrino decides tomorrow.”

On the subject of the potential venue for the Copa final, Luis Enrique seemed relaxed: “We have experienced playing the final at the Camp Nou and at the Calderón and we loved both of them.”

Finally, the Asturian manager commented on his team’s objective to “always improve our performances as we know we have more hopes of winning if we play well.” To wrap up he spoke of the need to get through this intense period and said “once we have played the Champions League game we will have more time to rest and it will be better for our players.”

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