Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde insists he will not rest Lionel Messi after scoring four goals and that crisis talk about Real Madrid is merely “noise”.
Barca travel to Girona on Saturday evening, in the first-ever Catalan derby of its kind, prompting Valverde to also warn his side of the “extra motivation” they needed in the match.
“Girona 3-5-2? We have to adapt to it, they’ll play very narrow and we must have an answer to it,” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“Suarez? We’ll see how he responds in training, but we think he’ll pull through. That’s the idea.
“Rotating Messi? When I’ve had a player score four goals, I’ve never dropped them for the next game.
“Madrid in crisis? It’s true that they’re seven points behind, but Sevilla are two and Atleti four.
We were supposedly in one a month ago. There’s always a lot of noise, but I’m only looking at my own players.
“The game against Girona is very important, it’s derby, with an emotional attachment to it.
“They’ll also be extra-motivated, so they deserve our motivation. You have to know how to play derbies, they’ll have marked it out on their calendar.
“They played very well against Sevilla and didn’t deserve to lose. They drew with Atletico and beat Malaga away from home. They’re newcomers, but they want to do well.
“We have midfielders that can score goals, like Denis, Paulinho, Iniesta, Rakitic, Arda… We’re able to play near our opponents’ box.
“It’s not just about possession, it’s about taking the ball into scoring positions, and we have players that can score.
“Mascherano? He’s a very important player for us in all aspects. How to manage him? By being clear with him, but I see him in a very good way and integrated, and he’ll play a lot of games.
“We’re feeling good and our intention is to extend our winning streak as much as we can.
“We don’t want to stop, but our rivals are also playing and sometimes there are problems in a game, which you can’t solve, but our intention is to keep going as we are.
“Best tactical version of Messi? He has the ambition of scoring goals and [influencing] games, and he wants to keep going like this. We’re seeing something unique, seeing Messi in every game.
“Yeray’s recovery from cancer? It fills me with joy. We’ve shared many things together, and I’d like him to be on the pitch when we play Athletic.
“Iraizoz? He’s a great professional, he brings a lot on and off the pitch, in terms of companionship and day-to-day support. His behaviour has always been exemplary, as per his career.
“Madrid? I find it difficult to answer questions about them. I come from the other side of the world.
“There’s a wall here, with Barca and Madrid either side of it, but I’m aware of all our rivals.
“They’ve lost a game, but so will we. They’re comparisons for you to make. I don’t keep track of how many goals our opponents score.
“I want Messi to score lots of them, his teammates too. It goes from week to week. The League has started how it has, but you’ll see how everything goes.”
Girona (probable): Iraizoz; Maffeo, Juanpe, Bernardo, Ramalho, Aday; Pons, Granell, Borja Garcia’ Kayode, Stuani
Injuries/suspensions: Alcala, Boulaya, Planas, Amagat (doubtful) Aurelio, Muniesa, Timor (I)
Barcelona (probable): Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Denis
Injuries/suspensions: Dembele, Ortola, Rafinha (I)
Referee: Sanchez Martinez
Form guide: Girona (D L L W D) Barca (W W W W W)
Kick-off time: 19:45 BST/20:45 local time (LIVE on Football Espana)