Barcelona may be pleased to be back in Spanish La Liga action after their international break was dominated by questions over the future of star man Lionel Messi.
The Argentinian midfielder told Ole earlier this week that he wanted to remain at the club but “sometimes everything does not always go as you want”. That comment, coupled with some from his father Jorge suggesting they would consider a move if Barça wanted to sell, has sparked a storm of speculation, as well as endless denials from Barcelona.
With a tough fixture against fifth-placed Sevilla to come at the Nou Camp on Saturday, coach Luis Enrique sought to draw a line under the debate on Friday. “I’ve always heard Leo saying he is happy at the club and I stick with that,” he told the Spanish media at a press conference.
“I’ll take the message that he is very comfortable here. That is what interests me. I have not spoken to Leo about (the recent interview). I have always heard he is doing great in Barcelona. There is nothing more.” By the time Barça kick off they could be five points behind rivals Real Madrid, who play away to Eibar earlier in the afternoon.
Defending champions Atletico Madrid are at home to Malaga, who have won five on the bounce to move all the way up to sixth place, and Atletico coach Diego Simeone has warned his players to expect a tough afternoon. “We have no room for error, we must treat the game like a final,” he told the Spanish media at a press conference.
Saturday’s other game is a contest at the opposite end of the table but one full of intrigue with former Manchester United manager David Moyes beginning his Real Sociedad reign with a trip to Deportivo La Coruna. Both teams are only outside the drop zone on goal difference.
Valencia, who begin the weekend third, must wait until Sunday afternoon for their local derby trip to Levante. With Sevilla and Malaga both facing away trips to top four sides, seventh-placed Celta Vigo will hope to capitalise when they head to Rayo Vallecano at lunchtime on Sunday.
Celta Vigo are five points clear of eighth-placed Villarreal, who host Getafe in the evening fixture. Sunday’s other match sees fellow strugglers Elche and Cordoba square off at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero. Granada and Almeria will bring the curtain down on the weekend programme on Monday night.