Skit­tles? That’s not fair play ...

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

BARCELONA coach Luis En­rique de­fended his team’s in­tegrity yes­ter­day af­ter a week in which his play­ers were crit­i­cised by the high­est pow­ers in Span­ish foot­ball fol­low­ing last week’s dra­matic 3-2 win at Va­len­cia.

La Liga chief Javier Te­bas said he would be “ashamed to pre­tend” the way some play­ers went down “like a game of skit­tles” when a bot­tle was thrown in from the stands, while the Span­ish Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (RFEF) crit­i­cised Barca for goad­ing Va­len­cia fans af­ter Lionel Messi’s in­jury- time win­ner.

Barca es­ca­lated their row with the league by call­ing for dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Te­bas on Thurs­day.

Luis En­rique stopped short of hit­ting back at Te­bas, but launched a staunch de­fence of his team, who he pointed out have won the league’s Fair Play award for the last six sea­sons.

“Pour­ing more fuel on the fire doesn’t in­ter­est any­one but the facts speak for them­selves. We have won the Fair Play award for many years and that speaks of our sports­man­ship,” Luis En­rique, said.

“We don’t kick oth­ers, we don’t in­jure op­po­nents. Those are the val­ues we try to trans­mit. We are the team that makes the least anti-sport­ing ges­tures and gets the least cards. The ev­i­dence is clear.”

Cham­pi­ons Barca climbed up to third in the stand­ings thanks to the thrilling vic­tory over Va­len­cia and face bot­tom side Granada at home on Satur­day.

Lu­cas Al­caraz’s side are the only team in the league yet to win a game and Luis En­rique ex­pects the vis­i­tors to opt for an ex­tra de­fen­sive set up at the Nou Camp.

“They can play with a 4-4-2 or with five de­fend­ers but if there’s a team that is pre­pared to com­bat that de­fen­sive strat­egy then it’s us,” he said.

Barca could be with­out a to­tal of seven play­ers for the game through in­jury, in­clud­ing cap­tain An­dres Ini­esta and in­flu­en­tial de­fender Ger­ard Pique. – Reuters

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