‘Pique & Messi absences handy’

Luis Enrique admits Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi’s enforced absences against Granada on Sunday come in handy as the Barcelona pair need to rest.

A combination of a knock and being one yellow card away from a ban has instructed Enrique to leave out Pique, while Messi picked up his fifth booking of the season during Barca’s 4-2 victory over Valencia before the international break.

“We’ve arrived at the pinnacle of the season, this match brings with it several difficulties: the international break, playing away from home,” the Coach said at a Press conference.

“We’ll be facing a difficult team, who we needed a good performance to beat in the first round.

“Pique’s absence? You know that you can’t force yellow cards, but in light of the very dense calendar that we have, Pique needs a break.

“He’s a vital player for us, but it’s important that he recovers.

“No Messi? On a football level, there won’t be any differences. He will get some rest, which is sure to suit him.

“A return to 4-3-3? Regardless of who we play, we’ll use the system that’s best for us.

“Neymar and Suarez? They’re in very good shape.

“Pique’s comments? What I think isn’t important.  We’d have to clone Pique if there wasn’t another one. He looks fantastic to me, always respectful.

“Our calendar? It’s intense, with maximum intensity and possibilities to win everything, but it’s slight compared to January. The end of the season will be exciting and very interesting.

“Messi’s four-match international ban? I find his numbers incredible. He’s a player who doesn’t create controversy, his demeanour is unblemished to me.

“Rotations? These are things that I have to assess, but in order to endure this calendar, you must have a squad.

“Real Madrid’s values? I’m more radical than Pique, it’s better that I don’t express myself!

“The final rush is approaching, the time of maximum difficulty is arriving and it’s a stimulus for everyone.

“Juve? The difference in Juventus’ table is greater than ours [on Real Madrid], but I like that they have two games against Napoli coming up.

“Messi’s mood? I see him to be very well, I gave him the possibility of no training, but he preferred to come. I see him like I’ve done for the whole season.”

Granada (probable): Ochoa; Foulquier, Saunier, Ingason, Gaston, Hector; Cuenca, Uche, Wakaso, Pereira; Adrian Ramos

Injuries/suspensions: Carcela (I)

Barcelona (probable): Ter Stegen; Sergi, Mathieu, Mascherano, Alba; Denis, Busquets, Gomes; Rafinha, Suarez, Neymar

Injuries/suspensions: Pique (I)Vidal (I) Arda (I) Messi (S)

Referee: Jaime Latre

Form guide: Granada (L L L W L) Barca (W L W W W)

Previous meeting: Barcelona 1-0 Granada

Kick-off time: 19:45 BST/20:45 BST (LIVE on Football Espana!)

Tags Luis Enrique