Ernesto Valverde has warned Barcelona not to “get carried away or make any assumptions” in the title race, despite their 11-point lead at the top of La Liga.
Barca could end the weekend 14 points clear if they beat Alaves on Sunday and Atletico Madrid suffer a shock defeat to Las Palmas, but Valverde urged his side not to be ‘careless’ and fall for any “jolts of optimism”.
“We can’t get carried away by our lead,” the coach said at a Press conference.
“One of our objectives is to not let in these jolts of optimism, which tell you everything’s been won.
“There are always extremes in football: you win or lose, you leave everyone else in the table behind or you’re an absolute disaster. That’s why we must always remember that we’ve not won anything yet.
“We mustn’t be careless and if we consider the games we’ve played until now, we’re a very difficult team to beat.
“We can’t take stock or make any assumptions yet, so on Sunday there’ll be a good team against a team in Alaves that play to win away from home, like they did last year.
“Departures? It’s possible that some more will leave, but I don’t know. I can’t make any promises.
“If I make changes, it’s not because our lead at the top is big enough. If we think like that, our lead could get smaller.
“It’s possible Coutinho could start, we’ll see. We’re doing well, and it’s been a long time since the start of the season, but it’s also not a good idea to look at how good we are and how bad the others are.
“It’s like how we weren’t top at the start of the season and then things changed, but they can change again. We’re happy, but we still have a lot to do.
“Mina? He could play, but he’s still adapting to the team and his new teammates, plus he’s waiting for his Coach to give him a chance!
“Neymar? At first it seemed we’d lose a lot in an attacking sense, but now we have a structure that helps us in every sense.
“Will he join Madrid? If strange things happen, they would in the world of football. In any case, I’m not worried about these types of issues.
“Alaves? They’re having their best run of the season. You can see they’re fine, they had a great Copa tie against Valencia, they’re playing with enthusiasm and Abelardo has revitalised them.
“They apply plenty of pressure and are very brave, plus they have some quality players up top and on the wings.
“They’ve bounced back very well, they feel optimistic and they’ll come here to win like they did last season. These are games that we have to make sure of.
“Munir? I see him very well, he’s scoring goals and integrating very well. I hope there won’t be a repeat of last season, when he scored two goals for Valencia at Barcelona.”