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Laurent Blanc and Luis Enrique, the current managers of PSG and Barça, followed very different career paths. The former started out at Montpellier and went on to play in Ligue 1, Serie A, La Liga and the Premier League. The latter only ever played in Spain. But they did coincide for one season at the Camp Nou.
Both players came on free transfers in 1996. The Frenchman, aged 30 at the time, arrived from Auxerre; the 26 year old Asturian from Real Madrid. Laurent Blanc was the first signing of the Bobby Robson era and was officially unveiled on May 20. Luis Enrique’s arrival was announced a week later, on May 27, and he was officially presented on July 23.
Together at the Calderón
Having both just competed at Euro 96 in England, the duo first appeared in the same Barça line-up at the Vicente Calderón in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup (Luis Enrique had played in the first leg, but not Blanc). That August 28, 1996, Barça lost 3-1 to Atlético Madrid, but it was still enough to win the first silverware of the season.
The two would play a total of 33 games together (23 in La Liga, 5 in the Cup Winners Cup, 4 in the Spanish Cup and the aforesaid Super Cup game). Those matches resulted in 22 wins for FCB, five draws and six defeats, and included the dramatic cup games with Real Madrid (Barça going through 4-3 on aggregate) and Atlético Madrid (Barça coming from behind to win and incredible match 5-4). They were also together when Barça won 5-2 against Atlético at the Calderón.
Laurent Blanc missed the finals of both the Cup Winners Cup (coincidentally against PSG) and the Spanish Cup. At the end of the season he departed for Olympique Marseille. Eighteen years on, and Blanc and Luis Enrique are set to meet again – this time as rival managers.
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