Luis Enrique has insisted that Lionel Messi is in “perfect” shape ahead of Barcelona’s La Liga encounter with Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.
The visit of the Galicians kicks off a tough run of fixtures for La Blaugrana, with their Club World Cup commitments beginning next Thursday and Neymar not expected back until the final on December 20, but the Coach is confident his side will pull through.
“We’re facing this game very carefully,” he said at a Press conference.
“Not only because Depor are sixth and have some spectacular players, but we realise the danger they pose and how well they work on both a defensive and attacking level.
“They are one of the teams who have surprised me and aren’t at all like the final game of last season. I really like them.
“[Messi’s] in perfect condition and all Catalans should be calm [about his fitness].
“The Club World Cup is an attractive objective, but it would be very sad for us not to do our homework [before the game].
“The fans have an important role in contributing to the team’s good performance, and they’ll help us solve this game and thus prepare in the best way for the CWC.
“[On Sandro Ramirez and Munir El Haddadi], my goal as a Coach is to always defend my players, but there are times when I say other things.
“I’ve only spoken well about them. It would have been easier for them to have minutes in different circumstances, but they’ll keep improving and I’m happy [with them].
“Given the form they’re in and how they’ll press us, [Saturday] will be complicated.
“I’m here to remind the team that we need three points and not to think about Japan.
“[Sergi Roberto] has been discharged and is in good shape. His mood hasn’t been affected by the injury.
“This is the area of the pitch we’ve had the most injuries, and it’s great news to have him back.
“He can play in different positions and offers movement, vision and possession of the ball.
“[Neymar] is going through the normal process of an injured player.
“He was down on the day he got injured, but now he’s keen on recovering as soon as possible. He’s okay.
“What concerns me the most is that he recovers well, but to play in a final you have to win a semi-final and it seems we’ve already got there, although surprises happen in football.
“When Neymar arrived [in 2013], he was already at a high level.
“His numbers are amazing and [his ability] can be seen in everything that he brings.
“He’s a magical player who has the capacity to overcome any opponent and also scores goals.
“What will we lack without him? The team will have to find solutions and make his absence felt as little as possible.
“[On the CWC], it’d have been better to have more days for preparation, but with the schedule we have in Europe, it’s not possible and hopefully not noticeable.
“[On potentially 15,000 River Plate fans in Japan], at the end of the day, the 11 I play will be accustomed to the pressure. There will be many Barca fans in Japan.
“[On Dani Alves’ upturn in form], I’m not surprised at all. He's a player you love when you see him train every day.
“He’s a professional who doesn’t spare even a gram of energy. He has the quality and personality to play at the top level and withstand the pressure.
“[On Real Madrid’s elimination from the Copa del Rey], I stand by what I said last week.”