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La Liga

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique: I am more radical than Gerard Pique

Shaka Hislop weighs in on Gerard Pique's latest comments on Real Madrid and questions what the defender is trying to achieve.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique defended Gerard Pique after his comments about Real Madrid in midweek as he confirmed that the defender would be rested for the trip to Granada.

Pique criticised the values of Barcelona's arch-rivals on Tuesday, creating a media furore.

But Luis Enrique told a news conference: "If Pique didn't exist, you would have to create him.

"I'm more radical than Pique so it's better if I don't say anything [about Madrid's club values]."

Pique missed training on Saturday with the permission of Luis Enrique and was not called up for the Granada game after playing twice for Spain during the international break.

The centre-back played the full 90 minutes in the 4-1 win over Israel in a World Cup qualifier and the 2-0 friendly victory over France.

"We are giving rest to a vital player for us," Luis Enrique said.

"He played all the minutes possible with the national team. In the face of what's coming up, a calendar so dense, he needs to rest."

Barcelona have nine matches in April, including both legs of their Champions League quarterfinal clash with Juventus, a Clasico and a Catalan derby at Espanyol.

Lionel Messi also misses the Granada clash through suspension after being booked for the fifth time in La Liga against Valencia, and returns against Sevilla on Wednesday.

He was also suspended for four Argentina games by FIFA after insulting an assistant referee, but Luis Enrique said: "He is a player who has always been extremely respectful with referees, never in conflict and always under pressure with all eyes on him.

"His behaviour seems impeccable to me."

Meanwhile Arda Turan, who suffered a groin injury while on international duty with Turkey, misses the game along with long-term absentee Aleix Vidal, but exciting midfield prospect Carles Alena, 19, is included.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.


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