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Luis Enrique optimistic Barca can maintain hot streak

Luis Enrique optimistic Barca can maintain hot streak

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is optimistic his team can continue their strong run as the players are relishing their jobs and the squad will be reinforced by Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal from the turn of the year.

Barca are four points clear at the top of La Liga and through to the last 16 of the Champions League and King’s Cup as they seek to successfully defend the three titles they won last season, Luis Enrique’s first in charge.

Fired by prolific forwards Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, they have rattled in 20 goals in their last four outings, including putting four past Real Madrid without reply in last month’s La Liga ‘Clasico’ at the Bernabeu.

They play at stuttering ninth-placed Valencia in La Liga on Saturday with the Singapore-owned club awaiting the arrival of new coach Gary Neville, who was appointed this week to replace Nuno and will take over from Sunday.

Luis Enrique has hinted Barca may look to buy in the January window but they will in any case be able to register playmaker Arda and versatile fullback Vidal, who were bought in the close season, after a FIFA transfer ban expires at the end of the year.

“From January with the incorporation of more players we will have more room to cope with the season’s physical challenges,” Luis Enrique told a news conference.

“I am optimistic,” added the former Barca and Spain midfielder. “I always am because the players are having fun doing what they are doing and it’s always easier when someone is enjoying themselves in what they do.”

Barcelona have already secured top spot in their Champions League group ahead of Wednesday’s game at Bayer Leverkusen.

They host Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga on Dec. 12 before heading to Japan for the Club World Cup.

Midfielder Sergi Roberto and defender Jeremy Mathieu are injured and were not included in the squad for the Valencia game, Barca said earlier on Friday.

(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Ken Ferris)

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