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Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has assured that should La Liga leaders fail to secure three points at Las Palmas on Saturday (20 February) it "will not be because" his side are already thinking about their Champions League encounter with Arsenal on Tuesday (23 February). The boss, meanwhile, is aware that despite the Canary Islands team struggling this term they can "make thing difficult" for Barca, especially as key star Sergio Busquets will miss the game due to suspension.
The Catalan side travel to Las Palmas in sensational form after a 3-1 victory in their game in hand over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday (17 February) helped them to consolidate their lead in La Liga, six points ahead of Atletico Madrid and seven over Real Madrid. Luis Enrique rested some important players for that game like Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto but opted to use the attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar up front, with the Argentinian taking his tally at the Nou Camp to 301 goals in 334 games.
The visit to the third-bottom in La Liga table looks a good opportunity to rotate some more players ahead of the coming trip to Arsenal. The Barcelona boss, however, said that he is just focused in beating Las Palmas and then they will start to think about the Champions League tie with the Gunners.
"If we do not beat Las Palmas, it will not be because we are thinking about Arsenal. It will be because we have not played well or because the rival have played better" the Barcelona boss said in the press conference ahead of the game. "If anyone has demonstrated that they are capable of playing every three days, regardless of the rival and the competition, it is Barcelona."
Luis Enrique will have much of his Barcelona squad available for the game, as just Busquets will miss the game after being booked against Sporting, while long-term injury Rafinha Alcantara remains on the sidelines. The boss could use either Sergi Roberto or Javier Mascherano in the holding role but warned that Las Palmas could complicate their usual passing game style.
"Las Palmas can make things very difficult for us. In the last 10 games of the competition, the teams who are fighting to avoid the relegation, who in theory are worse, sometimes do the unexpected. Las Palmas know how play with the ball, they are well organised, play good football. We will have to press well tomorrow to recover the ball."
The Barcelona manager, meanwhile, played down suggestions that the La Liga title is already decided, following their latest victory over Sporting, as there are still many games to be played.
"Surely Barcelona and others at the top are going to drop points before the end of La Liga and we are always cautious when talking about these things. Until the championship is mathematically decided nobody will consider it over," he said. "If there was this same euphoria, or anything out of control at training or day to day, I would be worried. But there is not. I see a group of players with clear objectives, aware that everything is still to be decided," the Barcelona boss added.
"We will try and repeat what we did last season. The players are enjoying themselves, but we know how difficult it is to keep winning. Until someone is mathematically certain nobody is going to think they have won anything, and nobody is going to give up the chase."