Enrique plays down Espanyol rivalry

Luis Enrique has joked that Barcelona and Espanyol players sang “Christmas carols” together after Wednesday’s Copa del Rey last-16 first leg.

Tensions boiled over at Camp Nou as Barca’s 4-1 victory over Espanyol was marred by their opponents’ nine yellow cards and two reds, plus reported scuffles in the tunnel after the game, but the Coach played down any talk of bad blood between the two teams.

“I wanted us to put on the best show we possibly could and that the Barca fans could enjoy the game,” he said after the game.

“It proved to be so, despite the wind. I think we fulfilled our objectives.

“I think the result didn’t do us justice because we had plenty of chances.

“The limits aren’t set by Coaches or the players, but by the referees, who are responsible for what is not football and isn’t.

“There was tension, and I wish there was more of a game, fewer interruptions and no injuries.

“[On arguments in the tunnel], they were Christmas carols. It’s normal that there’s tension in these games. My players know it.

“I liked [what I saw from Arda and Aleix]. It’s clear that going so long without playing took a lot out of them, but they offered solutions. Aleix had some very good minutes.

“The score reflects our superiority but leaves [Espanyol] still in with a chance of coming back. We’ll go to Cornella to win, as we always have.

“Except for Xavi [Hernandez], I haven’t seen a player [like Andres Iniesta] who is able to see what he has behind him, make quick decisions and control games.

“He’s a magical player. The turns he performed, his ability to be in the right place … he’s unique.

“These players are used to tense games. They have the maximum of expectations placed upon them, so I don’t think [games like these] will take their toll on them.”

Tags Luis Enrique