Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola believes Athletic Bilbao will be dangerous opposition for his side when they meet in La Liga on Sunday.
Guardiola, whose side lost to Arsenal in the Champions League in midweek, wants his side to focus on every game and not use their busy schedule as an excuse for poor performances.
“It’s important to win this game. The players will then have a week of rest at home, as you have to bear in mind that these players have played fifteen games with four or five days rest in between,” Guardiola said.
“That is a lot of effort, but of course we are looking to win tomorrow. It isn’t a case of looking at the calendar and saying that we will have 21 points by winning the next seven games as it’s difficult to know what will happen in the future. We will prepare for each game that we have ahead of us.”
Bilbao are currently in fifth place in La Liga and are well placed to earn a spot in the Europa League next season.
Barcelona’s run of 14 straight wins in the league was broken last week after a 1-1 draw with lowly Sporting Gijon, and Guardiola said his side needed to play a full 90 minutes if they were to avoid a repeat on Sunday.
“It has always been hard playing against Athletic, especially in those intense cup games,” Guardiola said.
“They have always been very even games, between two of the big teams in this league.”
“Maybe they are the best that they have been in three years. They are a young side and we know each other very well.”