Football: Barca boss not bothered by off-field controversy

Football: Barca boss not bothered by off-field controversy
Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique smiles before the Spanish league football match Elche FC vs FC Barcelona at the Martinez Valero stadium in Elche on January 24, 2015.

MADRID - Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has insisted that more legal action against the club for their dealings in the signing of Brazilian star Neymar hasn't affected his preparations for their trip to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was charged with tax fraud by a Spanish judge on Tuesday, suspected of evading 2.85 million euros (S$4.36 million) in a payment made to Neymar last year.

Just 24 hours earlier, the club and former president Sandro Rosell, who resigned over the affair just over a year ago, were also accused of avoiding over 12 million euros in tax for declaring an incorrect transfer fee for the 22-year-old back in 2013.

"If there is something that this team is specialised in, given all the unfortunate things that have taken place in previous seasons, it is to distance themselves from negative situations," Enrique said on Saturday.

"We have had our best week of training since the season began. The last three sessions were of a very high level." Barca have enjoyed a rare free midweek and come into the game on a fine run of eight consecutive wins, scoring 29 goals in the process.

The Catalans also have the chance to gain ground on at least one if not both of their title rivals as Atletico Madrid host Real Madrid on Saturday.

However, despite Athletic's disappointing campaign to date, Enrique is wary of dropping points in a city where Barca haven't won since 2010.

"They are a difficult team that won't allow us to have the ball easily.

"They are very dangerous in the air and from set-pieces. Playing away from home is always more difficult and they will make it hard for us.

"There is still a long way to go in the season. I think La Liga is competitive enough that there will be surprises between now and the end of the season."

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