Luis Enrique: Clasico not decisive in title race

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Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has played down the significance of Saturday's Clasico with Real Madrid and insisted it will not be decisive in the Liga title race.

Barca head into the contest six points behind Zinedine Zidane's table-topping side and needing to avoid defeat to remain in touch with their arch rivals.

The ramifications of a third league defeat of the season could be huge for Luis Enrique and Barca but the former Madrid midfielder believes it is too early in the season to be placing such emphasis on one game.

He told reporters at his news conference: "Regardless of the result, I don't think anyone could say it's decisive.

"It's the 14th game of the season. Clearly Madrid could take a very interesting lead but whatever the result I don't think it will be determinant in the league.

"The game is a chance to beat Real Madrid and to get closer to the top of the table, nothing more."

Luis Enrique does not think a win would end the criticism of his side either, adding: "It's important to win the Clasico as they are a direct opponent with the same aspirations as us but to think winning would put all criticism behind us is not going to happen. There will always be criticism."

Barcelona are not anticipating any tactical surprises from Madrid with Luis Enrique expecting the hosts to have the majority of the possession at Camp Nou.

"I think Real Madrid will be similar to last year and the start of this season, they have no problem in letting the opposition have the ball," he said.

"But they have great transitions, they have quick players, they move the ball quickly with short passes.

"We are going to try to control the ball more, play the possession game, try to generate space that we can then exploit.

"They are a very organised side, a team that does not need the ball to compete and who base their game on the transition out of defence and on set-pieces.

"They are achieving very good results, they have very good players and for us it's a very special game against our eternal rivals.

"We are at the Camp Nou and we go in with the intention of playing well against a very good opponent."

Luis Enrique denied suggestions he would tinker with his line-up with the injured Gareth Bale not involved for Madrid.

He said: "I am not going to deny he's a very important player for their team but that doesn't condition what I do anyway.

"I pick my team around what I have not what other teams have."