Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba says he knows he has a fight on his hands to nail down a first team spot with his new club.
Alba, 23, joined the Camp Nou club for €14 million from Valencia last June, but after a busy summer, including Euro 2012 and Olympics appearances, and a recent bout of flu, he has seen Brazilian international Adriano Correia start the last three games at left-back.
Stiff competition for places was to be expected with a squad as strong as Barca's, Alba said.
"Here at Barcelona there are no first-teamers and reserves," Alba said. "We are all playing a lot. It is true that Adriano has played more, but we are all important players. I do not think going to the Olympics or with the senior team for the last games has disadvantaged me. I have recovered and I want to give everything so that I feel important here."
Barca coach Tito Vilanova was helping him adapt his game to the Barca way, Alba said.
"I feel good with this style of play," he said. "I have had to change some things and the adjustments are good. I am adapting quickly although not as much as I wanted. I hope to show my true level soon. Tito is helping me a lot, and looking out for me. He is a worker and knows what he is doing."
Alba said he hoped Barcelona could maintain their current eight point lead over title rivals Real Madrid before the two teams meet on October 7th, saying that Real's stumbles showed dropping points was possible.
"We are eight points ahead and that is very important," he said. "I hope we can keep that gap until the Clasico. We will see if we can beat Madrid. It would be very good to increase the lead. Eight points lead is a lot, it was unthinkable that Madrid would lose those games. We are warned now, it could happen to us."
Barca face Sevilla away this weekend, and Alba said that whoever played left-back would have their hands full with his Spanish international colleague Jesus Navas.
"Tito will decide who plays on Saturday," he said. "Navas is very good in one-on-ones. He is very quick and creates a lot of danger. Whoever plays will have to try and stop him because he is a great player."
The competition for the Barcelona left-back spot could soon get even fiercer after Xavi Hernandez revealed on Thursday that Eric Abidal's recovery from April's liver transplant operation was ahead of schedule and the French international could be back playing by November.
"I do not know him well, but he has charmed me," Alba said. "First we want him to recover, then we can see about playing. That is the least important. The coach will then decide who plays."