Barcelona v Valencia preview: Luis Enrique predicts lengthy title race
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 19/03/17 7:04pm
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique believes the La Liga title race will not be decided until its final weeks.
The Catalans, who host recovering Valencia at the Nou Camp on Sunday, are two points behind Real Madrid following last weekend's surprise defeat at Deportivo La Coruna.
Their historic Champions League comeback against Paris St Germain, which saw them overturn a four-goal deficit to reach the quarter-finals, has taken a lot out of Barca, according to their coach.
And with a last-eight European showdown with Juventus now entering the mix alongside their daunting domestic obligations, Luis Enrique feels it is too early to make assertions about the league.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, quoted on fcbarcelona.com, he said: "I think the championship will be decided over its last matchdays because they are always the most decisive.
"Now the calendar is looking brutal because of our European engagements, too.
"Also, the teams further down the table always seem to pick up more points over the final stretch."
Valencia are in that category. Although they are no longer in danger of being relegated, the 2004 champions are languishing down in 13th and look unlikely to break into the top half over the run-in.
Luis Enrique sounded a note of caution, though, saying: "Valencia have always proved to be a very tricky opponent for us, they have players of a very high standard."
Los Che have improved significantly since October, when they suffered a 3-2 home defeat to Barca, and their head coach Voro feels his players should head to Catalonia without fear.
"Every game is different," he told valenciacf.com. "We know what we are up against, but fear doesn't get you anywhere.
"We will have to use our weapons properly to be at 100 per cent, and we will need to perform at a high level in every area to be able to compete with Barcelona.
"They are always a dangerous side. Even more so at home, with the title at stake.
"We'll be up against a great team who do a lot of things well and have some game-changing players.
"We are going to use our own qualities to the fullest and try to minimise the things that Barca do well."
Valencia can take heart from the fact they won this fixture 2-1 last season, also taking all three points back down the east coast when they visited in February 2014.
However, their last trip to the Nou Camp ended as a 7-0 hammering in the Copa del Rey.
Watch Barcelona v Valencia live on Sunday. Coverage starts at 7.30pm, Sky Sports 2 HD.