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FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique Martínez, who spoke ahead of Saturday's La Liga game away to Valencia following Wednesday's sparkling performance against Manchester City, was eager to highlight Lionel Messi's scintillating play, popping a rhetorical question — and then a rhetorical answer: “Do any managers know how to stop Messi? Pep Guardiola knows him quite well and yet he still scored three goals.”
Barça's coach believes that few teams can, and if “Messi is Messi, we are good to go!” However, Luis Enrique is not relaxing ahead of what he considers to be a team with “a high technical and physical level”, whilst acknowledging that Valencia are going through an unstable period. On the subject of the latest managerial change, with Prandelli recently taking charge, Barça's coach stressed, “what coaches really need is the time and space to get the job done.”
The games are coming thick and fast for the Catalan club at the moment and, although the short preparation time is not ideal, Luis Enrique refused to complain about this testing run of games: “The fixture list is what it is, I am not worried because it can't be changed.”
Here are most interesting things Luis Enrique had to say during Friday’s press conference:
"We are facing a bit of an unknown Valencia because of the short time since Prandelli took over."
"From what we have seen, their defensive positioning is among the changes from earlier this season."
"The start to their season wasn’t very positive, but they have great players."
"We will try to do what we usually do, which is to not give many chances to our rivals."
"Sergi Roberto is fine, I’m not sure if he ready to play or make the squad. Mascherano is a good option, he played a good match against City."
"Playing away from home is difficult; the Mestalla is very supportive of their team. I do not remember having any easy games there."
"The individual level of their players is interesting."
"When there are injuries on one line we can fill in with players from the reserves, which is always an option and one that strengthens us."
“Having seen so little of Prandelli it is hard to say what the game will be like tomorrow. Teams can decide to press high up the pitch or sit back and soak up pressure. Tomorrow we will need to be on top of form to create space to play our game. The majority of opponents tend to sit back to try and control our attacking play.”
“In the league we need to win our games, try and drop as few points as possible and keep improving our performances.”
“Neymar Jr's contract extension is great news, it signifies his development with Barça and the level of performances that make him one of the best players in the world. He is comfortable at the Club, with his teammates, winning titles, and the feeling is mutual.”
"One of the objectives is to be more compact, everyone has played a part and done so to a high standard. The players showed their potential against an opponent that is also aiming to win everything.”
“I am very happy with the performances of all this season's signings so far, but we will evaluate properly at the end of the campaign. They still need to adapt and improve and will gain in confidence with time.”
“The basics of our game are already worked out and this is the advantage of having worked together for three years now. This is the shortest turnaround between matches with only two days but it is something that will happen a lot over the course of a season.”
“[Luis] Suárez has evolved in a very positive way in terms of his assists, goals and defensive duties. What makes Barça special is all our players do those three things regardless of what position they play on the pitch.”
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