Andres Iniesta says Barcelona cannot afford to take their La Liga title defence for granted ahead of Sunday’s clash with an out-of-form Eibar at Ipurua.
Barca set a new Spanish record for games unbeaten in all competitions on Thursday, surpassing Real Madrid’s previous best effort of 34 with a 5-1 hammering of nine-man Rayo Vallecano.
Luis Enrique’s champions have not tasted defeat since October’s 2-1 loss against Sevilla and sit eight points clear at the top of La Liga.
Neymar is suspended for Barca’s trip after picking up a fifth yellow card of the season against Rayo, meaning an opportunity for either Arda Turan or Munir El Haddadi alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Iniesta, a seven-time La Liga winner, said after the win against Rayo: “There are many important things required for the team to continue in this positive dynamic.
“The league is not finished, there are many points ahead. Every time we have to get closer but go step by step steadily. The sensations are good, the team is good.”
Fellow midfielder Sergi Roberto added: “We hope we can continue our unbeaten run because that means we’ll be getting more points.
“Ipurua will also be a very tough game. But we’ll be going there with the idea of winning another three points.”
Eibar coach Jose Luis Mendilibar is without recent acquisition Jota (hamstring) as his side face an uphill challenge to arrest their dismal recent form.
After an impressive first half to the season, Eibar’s hopes of Europe have faltered recently with six defeats in their last seven La Liga outings.
Back-to-back 1-0 setbacks against Las Palmas and Sevilla have continued their downward slide, while Eibar have not yet taken a point off Barca in their three attempts since gaining promotion in 2014.
Mendilibar urged his side to remain confident in their own quality, adding that two of Barca’s three draws in the league have come on the road as well as both defeats.
“Above all we must have concentration,” he told reporters.
“We must be ourselves and not change our idea of football. We respect all the teams but especially a team like this. We can’t afford to make mistakes, especially when we are coming out with the ball.
“Barca have suffered in some away games but ultimately they end up winning almost always because they are very good.”
Key Opta stats:
– Barcelona have won all their three La Liga meetings against Eibar.
– Eibar have lost three La Liga games in a row, the last two without scoring. Should they lose against Barcelona, it would be their worst run this season.
– Borja Baston has scored four of Eibar’s last five home goals in La Liga.
– Eibar are the only side yet to have won points in games they have been trailing in La Liga this season.
– Barcelona are the first side to have missed seven penalties in a La Liga term at least since 1998-99.
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