Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde assures his side are fully focused on Sunday’s visit of Deportivo La Coruna and not distracted by next weekend’s potentially key showdown with Real Madrid.
With Real not in LaLiga action this weekend due to their involvement at the FIFA Club World Cup, Barca would move 11 points clear of their arch-rivals if they can see off Depor at the Nou Camp.
That would ramp up the pressure on Zinedine Zidane’s men heading into El Clasico, and if Barca could come away from the Bernabeu with another victory that could conceivably be the death knell to Real’s title defence.
Valverde is not interested in hypotheticals though, telling a press conference: “What we’re thinking about doing is winning our game tomorrow.
“There’s no point worrying about next week’s game before thinking about tomorrow’s game.
“I don’t think that (Real match) has affected the players, they are concerned about tomorrow. So no, but no means whatsoever are we distracted by the Clasico.”
The leaders will be expected to see off a Depor outfit that are just one place and three points above the relegation zone, but Valverde highlighted his side’s last home match in LaLiga as a good reason not to be overconfident.
In that match Barca were held 2-2 by Celta Vigo, ending a run of 18 successive league victories in front of their own fans.
Valverde said: “I recall the game against Celta. We’re not guaranteed a win when we play here at the Nou Camp so we have to think about tomorrow and then turn the page and look to the Clasico.”
The Barca boss hopes to have experienced duo Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano available again imminently but says record signing Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha are still likely to be sidelined into the new year.
Depor stayed clear of the bottom three with a 1-0 win over Leganes last time out, having taken only one point from their previous four matches.
That will have boosted confidence ahead of the trip to the Nou Camp – where Depor have managed to come away with draws in three of their last five visits – but striker Adrian Lopez knows it will not be easy to claim anything this weekend.
However, he says a combination of a “perfect game” by the visitors and an off day by Barca could result in an upset, and has urged his side to make the most of any opportunities they get.
He told a press conference: “When we have the option of coming out with the ball it’s important not to lose it quickly and to hurt them.
“They attack with a lot of people, and usually they leave a lot of one against ones and there you need to be clever, defend well and be dangerous when we come out.
“If we’re capable of defending well we’re going to have our chances to cause them damage.”