FC Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has said that Atletico Madrid are the favorites to win La Liga this season.

FC Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in a very important fixture of La Liga this season and ahead of tonight’s game, Luis Enrique was full of praise for Diego Simeone.

Diego Simeone repeatedly claimed on this stage of last season that Atletico Madrid are not the contenders for any trophy but his side ended up as the La Liga champions and runners-up of UEFA Champions League. And FC Barcelona coach Luis Enrique believes that Atletico Madrid are clear favorites to win all major trophies this season.

“Last season Diego Simeone was saying at this stage that he didn’t think his team were real contenders for the title” said Luis Enrique. “But he ‘tricked’ us. Now he’s saying the same thing again, and we’re not falling for it.”

“They play very well as a unit” he continued. “And they are very dangerous from set pieces and on the counter attack. Not only that, but they will be an even bigger threat following the signings of Fernando Torres and Cani.”

Luis Enrique said he expects the same kind of game as the six encounters between the FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid last season, which ended in five draws and one win for Rojiblancos. “Only this time there will be a different result” he said. “It’s an attractive challenge. I find it very interesting. We’re higly motivated for this game … We’ll need to control Atletico Madrid and that means attacking well, in an orderly manner, with strong ideas and make sure that they don’t get chances from set pieces. We have been working especially hard on set pieces this week, examining plays and watching videos. It’s always especially difficult to defend high balls.”

There are reports of an ongoing tussle between Leo Messi and Luis Enrique. But the FC Barcelona manager said that he enjoys the support of his players and he will step down if they stop supporting him.

“There are so many spiteful comments and speculations going around, and if I was to confirm or deny any one of them, then I’d have to do the same thing for all of them” he explained. “And that’s not my game. It’s a dangerous game and I don’t intend to play it.”

“The day I feel that my players aren’t behind me will be the day that I leave” he said. “But that is not something that I have felt the need to do at any stage of my career.”