Barcelona can handle title pressure: manager Luis Enrique

Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is adamant that his side will not crumble under the pressure of being favourites to retain their La Liga title at Granada on Saturday.

The defending champions need to win in Andalusia to be assured of a 24th Spanish title and hold off a late-season charge by Real Madrid.

Barca led Real by as much as 12 points in March before a run of just one point from four games breathed new life into the title race.

However, Enrique’s men have responded by winning their past four games by a combined score of 21-0 and he believes his players experience of consistently winning at the highest level will see them complete the job in Granada.

“We are an unusual team in that regard, these players have won many things with the club and their national teams and are used to all kinds of ups and downs,” Enrique said on Friday.

“We have a very attractive and interesting challenge and we know at some point we will have to suffer because that is normal, especially when you are playing away from home.”

The build-up to the final weekend of league matches in Spain has been dominated by accusations of match-fixing and debate over whether teams going for the title or battling relegation should be allowed to pay bonuses to their rivals’ opponents to win.

Players of La Liga strugglers Rayo Vallecano vehemently denied any wrongdoing on Friday amid an investigation from the Spanish league into suspicious betting patterns before their 2-1 defeat to Real Sociedad last weekend.

It has been rumoured that Granada and Madrid’s opponents Deportivo la Coruna, both of whom have nothing to play for — could be offered bonuses for taking points off Barca or Real.

“I put my full trust in all professionals in football,” added Enrique.

“In football you have to concentrate on being as professional as possible and that is what I try to do every day.”

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