Luis Enrique has warned his Barcelona side that they will be facing one of the most complete teams in La Liga when they visit Sevilla.
Barca are four points clear at the top of the table following an excellent run of recent form that has seen them win six consecutive league games following a surprise home defeat to Malaga back in February.
Yet Barca are unlikely to have it all their own way at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday against a side aiming to secure a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Indeed, Sevilla’s 2-1 triumph at Levante on Tuesday made it five league wins in a row for Unai Emery’s men, who will have be further buoyed by Valencia’s 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao in midweek.
Sevilla are now just a point behind Valencia in the battle for fourth place. And Luis Enrique knows Barca will need to be at their best to avoid allowing Real Madrid to gain ground in the title race with a slip-up.
“It’s always easier to win when you play well,” Luis Enrique said. “Until now our season is going pretty well.
“Sevilla are one of the most complete teams in La Liga and the standings prove it.
“In the first half of the season they played touch and go and pressed other teams. But over the course of the season they’ve evolved a bit into something simpler as far as football is concerned. But it’s just as effective, if not more.
“In the end we have to win titles. The toughest part is yet to come.”
Barca have the advantage of being able to call on full-back Jordi Alba again after he was given the green light to return from a groin injury. Midfielder Sergio Busquets is also back from a ban.
The Catalan club won the reverse fixture in November 5-1 and have not suffered a league defeat at Sevilla since 2007.
But, while Emery has been quick to praise Luis Enrique for the job he has done at Camp Nou, the former Valencia boss is undaunted by the prospect of facing the league leaders.
“I think this Barcelona is the closest one to [Pep] Guardiola’s side,” Emery said.
“Enrique is doing a great job and you can see that in their play, regardless of whether their possession has increased or decreased. They’re in a very good place at the moment.
“The challenge of taking on Barca attracts and motivates me. I always think about winning no matter who our opponent is. I hope it’s a great game and that we see an excellent Sevilla performance.”
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