Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is unconcerned by Espanyol’s aggressive approach ahead of Sunday’s La Liga encounter and is confident the referee will ensure things do not get out of hand.
The sides met three times within the space of two weeks in January as Barca had to settle for a scoreless draw in La Liga, before knocking Espanyol out of the Copa del Rey.
The Copa encounters in particular were marred by a number of violent incidents as Espanyol had two players dismissed in the first leg, while Luis Suarez was handed a two-match ban afterwards for his role in a tunnel bust-up.
Luis Enrique expects another intense match on Sunday, but sees no reason to worry about a potential repeat of what happened in January.
“I am not worried about Espanyol’s aggressive approach. It’s up to the referee to deal with that,” Luis Enrique said at a media conference.
“I am only thinking about footballing matters. It will be a game like any other match. There will obviously be an extra motivation because it is a derby and it will be an intense game, but reaching our objectives is what really matters.
“I am not interested in talking about what happened in the previous derbies this season. There is bound to be some tension because it is a derby. But we have to focus on ourselves. I expect a great atmosphere at Camp Nou.”
Barcelona saw both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid get back in the title race following a poor run of form April, but they will be crowned champions if they win their remaining two games against Espanyol and Granada.
“There is no point in discussing next week’s game. We have to focus on winning against Espanyol and then we will see if we are already champions. We could be crowned champions on Sunday and we are the only team with that option,” Luis Enrique added.
“We are not in a delicate situation. We won our last three games 8-0, 6-0 and 2-0. We lost our lead because our rivals won their games. But you win the title over 38 games. You don’t get any presents in La Liga.”