Barcelona coach Luis Enrique sought to temper expectations after a perfect weekend for his team in La Liga’s title race.
The Catalan club overcame their traditionally tricky trip to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night in style, chalking up a Lionel Messi-inspired 5-2 win at San Mames.
It was a result that reduced league leaders’ Real Madrid’s advantage at the summit to a solitary point after they were thrashed 4-0 by local rivals and defending champions Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
“It was a good night and a great game but throughout the season there’ll be surprises for everyone,” Luis Enrique told his post-match press conference.
“Throughout the season, all teams have ups and downs. This tournament is won by the most consistent team, but it won’t be decided until the last day, so we can’t take heart yet. Currently we are second.
“We must be prepared for any circumstances. Barca have been the same from day one. The players aren’t machines. Sometimes they are better and other [times] less so.
“We all make mistakes. I always want us to give our best account of ourselves, but it’s not possible.
Messi opened the scoring with a deflected free-kick, saw his shot diverted into the net by    Athletic’s Oscar de Marcos for Barcelona’s third and had a hand in goals for Luis Suarez, Neymar and substitute Pedro.
Neymar’s and Pedro’s strikes came on the end of wonderfully crafted team moves and Luis Enrique chose to pay tribute to Messi’s contribution within a superb collective effort.
“It’s a great privilege for a coach to have a player like Messi, but recognition must extend to the entire group, when they play at a level like this.”