Barça face their last game of the calendar year with a place in the Copa del Rey round of 16 up for grabs. Ahead of Wednesday's game at 10pm CET at the Camp Nou, Luis Enrique spoke to the media and seemed optimistic even though he emphasised the need to improve from the first leg. The game at the José Rico Pérez stadium ended 1-1 and it means the tie is up for grabs in the return leg.
Luis Enrique spoke about how Hércules would sit back and close down space: "It'll be the same Hércules as in the 1st leg.” The Asturian emphasised the need to “improve in various areas against very defensive teams, such as the circulation of the ball, committing enough players forward and pressing quickly when the ball is lost.”
On the subject of his players having a break over the Christmas period Luis Enrique said: “Having rest days is always good, especially when the players have played so many games.”
The Barça coach gave a brisk answer when asked to evaluate his team's progress at this point of the season: “I'm not looking ahead to where we are at Christmas but at the end of the season. From what I see, I'm optimistic."
With the end of season in mind the manager spoke of the importance of spreading the load around the squad: "We look at playing time every week. Everyone has the same shot at helping the team play better."
“It is important to have everybody in the squad switched on. 95% of the players have played quite a lot and let's hope they can keep improving the team's performances.”
The Asturian coach also spoke in glowing terms of the contribution made by three of his players:
Rakitic: “I am really happy with the way he plays, his commitment, his attitude. Rakitic has been and will be an important player for Barça.”
Neymar Jr: “This season he has created a lot of goals and will continue to do so. He is a crucial player for us and I am very happy with how he is performing.”
Cillessen: “He is used to playing with the ball at his feet and he has had no problem adapting to Barça. I am very happy with the signing.”
Finally, Luis Enrique gave his thoughts on the January transfer window: “I am open to the idea of improving our squad although it will be difficult if you look at who we already have. But there is always a chance.”