Luis Enrique says Barcelona players pumped up for Copa del Rey final
Luis Enrique insists his Barcelona team will need no extra motivation in the Copa del Rey final today.
With the Primera Division title already won and a Champions League final to come on June 6, you could be forgiven for thinking that the showpiece against Athletic Bilbao would not be top of Barca’s priorities.
But with Barca chasing a 27th cup victory and Athletic a 24th, Luis Enrique expects the two most successful teams in the history of the competition to put on a show.
"It’s one of the best games you could possibly play in, for the atmosphere and because there is a trophy at stake," he told the Spanish press at a pre-match press conference.
"I am not going to use any motivational video because the players are already completely motivated. There is plenty of impetus for them to win.
"After lots of matches in the competition and a faultless run, now the best is to come. We are highly motivated and we don’t value any trophy over another.
"I won’t play 11 footballers, I will play with the 23 players from the squad who have brought us here."
He added: "Athletic are one of the most difficult sides to play against, they try and take the ball off you and they put you under pressure at all times."
The manager confirmed that he had a fully fit squad to choose from, including forward Luis Suarez who has recently been suffering with a hamstring injury.
Despite the game being played at the Nou Camp, Barca will be classed as the away team for the final, although Luis Enrique does not think that will make a major difference.
"It will be strange to go to the away dressing room but the players are professionals and they are used to playing in different stadiums," he said.
"In the past we have seen teams beaten in the final of competitions at their own ground. It is our ground but the atmosphere will be different. It’s the perfect venue to play football."
Athletic defender Aymeric Laporte admits the Catalans will provide a stiff test but is excited about the chance to claim a first trophy of his professional career.
"I’m very happy and excited. It’s a match that will be remembered in years to come," he told a press conference shown on the club’s official website.
"You have to handle the pressure. We know that Barcelona are a very good team and we must do things right and go for the win.
"There is so much talent in that team, so we have to watch their every move and every play.
"It’s a final and they will try to give 100 per cent, so we must give 200 per cent. What happens on the pitch will be most important.
"Playing a final and being able to lift a trophy is something that you will remember for the rest of your life."
Ander Iturraspe, Jonas Ramalho, Oscar de Marcos and Iker Muniain are all expected to miss out for Athletic through injury.