Luis Enrique is not afraid to say his team has to win La Liga again this season, but he knows it would be a tough road for Barcelona.
The Blaugrana boss appeared before the press on Saturday to preview the new campaign and the league debut at San Mamés, against Athletic Bilbao. Despite the emphatic 5-1 loss in the Spanish Supercup less than a week ago, Enrique believes this is a different situation and circumstance, and he gives his team the edge on Sunday. He also commented on the departure of Pedro, Gerard Piqué's suspension, and more. Here's a few highlights from his pregame presser:
"Despite the fact that we have played against them twice already, the context of the game will help us more than the previous two. We will be fresher with more good training sessions under our belt, on the other hand, Athletic are coming off the back of a demanding and important game.
"They are a team who are very uncomfortable to play against; they press you and don’t let you play. They know how to counter and they can play the long ball up to Aduriz, who as we well know, can cause big problems at any time."
On the league:
"It will be a long season. It’s a competition of consistency and we are favourites after having won last season. We are kicking off in an lovely, historic stadium. Starting well always helps."
On Pedro’s departure:
"We wanted to know on which players we could count. We knew that the situation was not easy and I wish Pedro all the best."
On possible signings:
"We are working on it and we have time. Whether we sign players or not, we know that they will not be able to play until January."
On Alba and Neymar:
"Jordi has been declared fit and has been able to train and when we get to Bilbao we will see if he is going to play or not. He is a welcome addition to the squad."
"Neymar has started training today. He has started pre-season this Saturday and given his illness, how he comes on will determine when he will be available."
"I am not worried if it takes Neymar a little bit of time to get back to fitness. Given how he is, I am sure he will get fit quickly and will be back available soon."
"It has been a little unusual due to the fact that we have played in two tournaments earlier than normal. We have won the European Super Cup and at the end of the season is when we can evaluate the team’s performance. At the moment we are fine, we are prepared to compete and the players are in exceptional shape and looking forward to winning trophies again."
On Piqué’s ban:
"They have banned him, the Club has appealed and we will see what happens. Whatever the outcome, we will have to accept it."