Barcelona coach Luis Enrique expects Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to remain formidable rivals despite the clubs having their appeals against FIFA transfer bans rejected.
Madrid and Atleti will be unable to register new players until January 2018 after world football’s governing body upheld punishments for both teams breaking regulations over signing youth players.
Barca suffered a similar ban that expired this January but Luis Enrique, while offering qualified sympathy to the Madrid teams, pointed out his men remained a title-winning force during the seasons covered by their sanctions.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of Saturday’s home match against Alaves, he said: “I don’t remember what I said about our sanction. What did I say? It’s unfair?
“Well I suppose I think the same thing.
“But it did not stop us winning titles. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid will still have great teams. It is not a sanction against the players.
“You just have to accept it and continue to try and put together good teams.
“They are going to have to face it, they are going to have to do what they’ve got to do and hopefully we can have better results than them.”
Atletico were held to a 1-1 draw by Alaves on the opening day of the season and Luis Enrique warned his Barcelona players to be on their guard against a similar surprise result.
“From what I’ve seen I think they’re going to play defensively in their own half of the field, closing up spaces,” he added.
“We’ve seen a little bit of what they’re going to do and we’re going to focus on different things that happen in certain stages of the game.”