Barca are La Liga favourites – Luis Enrique

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is confident his side can successfully defend the La Liga title as they prepare to open their campaign against Athletic Bilbao.

Barca clinched the league by two points from rivals Real Madrid, but were beaten 5-1 over two legs by Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana in their build-up to the Lige campaign.

Luis Enrique's side claimed the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla, however, and, despite seeing Pedro join Chelsea in midweek, the Barca boss says his side are set to be frontrunners again this term.

"It's a long season and it's all about consistency, but starting with a win is always good," he said.

"We're the champions and we have to defend our title. We're the favourites just as Atletico [Madrid] were last season. As the year goes on things can change. 

"It will be a competitive league, with three or four teams in with a chance.

"It's been unusual in that we've had to play for two trophies off the back of what we did last season. 

"We're in good condition and are ready to compete. We're excited to play good football and to win trophies."

As well as confirming his hopes of signing a replacement for Pedro, Luis Enrique was also quizzed on the fitness of Neymar and Jordi Alba.

The former is back training following mumps but will not feature against Bilbao while Alba is available for selection after a hamstring problem.

"Jordi has been declared fit and has been able to train and when we get to Bilbao we will see if he is going to play or not. He is a welcome addition to the squad," added the Barca boss.

"Neymar has started training today. He has started pre-season this Saturday and given his illness, how he comes on will determine when he will be available.

"I am not worried if it takes Neymar a little bit of time to get back to fitness. Given how he is, I am sure he will get fit quickly and will be back available soon."

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