Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Luis Enrique backs Neymar to keep his cool in Espanyol test

Getty Images Getty Images
Frederick Owens | 29 April, 2017, 21:17

[SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT ] Iniesta, misses out through injury.

It was Neymar's first red card for the club, but Enrique is wary of the fact he will be a target as Espanyol try to derail their city rivals' title chances.

Luis Enrique's men face their neighbours at Estadi Cornella-El Prat but could be without Iniesta after the 32-year-old sat out Friday's session with a right adductor problem.

With just a handful of games left in the 2016-17 La Liga season, it's coming down to the wire for FC Barcelona.

If Iniesta can't play, his likely replacement will be Andre Gomes, who scored twice against Osasuna.

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Barca have now won three top-flight fixtures in succession since going down 2-0 at Malaga on April 8, reigniting their title challenge.

"He is a specialist in putting up with these type of situations because if there is a player used to being fouled and, above all, fouled with force, it is Neymar", said Enrique today. "Tomorrow we will see if he can play", responded Luis Enrique in his press conference when quizzed over Iniesta's fitness, although he appeared downbeat.

Espanyol go into the game in ninth place but without a win in their last two matches after a midweek draw with Sporting Gijon.

Barca are locked on 78 points with Real Madrid at the top of the table, but Real maintain the advantage as they have a game in hand. Espanyol's last victory was in the 2008-09 season, 17 matches ago. Cristiano Ronaldo and some other players didn't play on Wednesday in the 6-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna.

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