Luis Enrique in the press conference / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Barça take on Almería this Saturday and Luis Enrique is in no mood to the opposition lightly even though they currently find themselves in the bottom half of the table. The Barça coach appeared before the press prior to his squad’s final training session before leaving for Andalusia. The former blaugrana player made it clear that despite not having yet won at home this season, Almería “are an improved side with regards to last season.” As with all opponents who on paper appear beatable, Luis Enrique expects that “they will sit back and try and hit us on the counter,” adding that “they will make life difficult for us.”

The league clash comes just before another break for international fixtures but the coach does not expect that to affect his team. “I focus on the games the players play for Barça. When they come back we will have another look at them,” he replied to the expectant press. The coach said he was happy with the team’s current form and went on to explain that “in some aspects we are improving rapidly, in others not so.” After two successive defeats in the league and the victory in Amsterdam in the Champions’ League, the man from Gijón made it clear that “is it not a do or die game.”

The press inquired about the possibility of fielding two holding midfielders. The coach said it was not an option for him but that Sergio Busquets and Mascherano could play together in midfield, “because Sergio can play out wider in a more advanced position”. Up front Luis Enrique was happy that “any of the forwards can play in any position in attack.”

any of the forwards can play in any position in attack

The coach was asked about Marc Bartra, Gerard Piqué and Leo Messi in particular. Of the first, Luis Enrique said “each player brings something with his qualities, different things and Bartra offers us things going forward as well as in defence”, before adding that he was “delighted” with the form of all his centre backs. On recent speculation the coach was forthright: “I have not seen any problem of attitude from any of the players during the season.”

Finally, he once again marveled at the talents of Leo Messi who on Wednesday equaled Raúl’s record of 71 goals in the Champions’ League and who on Saturday has the chance of catching Telmo Zarra as the leading goalscorer of all time in La Liga: “I see Messi in good form at the beginning of the season. There is nothing left to say about him.”

Luis Enrique: "Almería are an improving side" by fcbarcelona

Congratulations for Nolito

Luis Enrique took advantage of the press conference in the Ciutat Esportiva to congratulate Celta Vigo forward Nolito on his call up by Vicente Del Bosque to the Spanish national squad. The Barça coach was in charge of Nolito during his spell at Barça B as well as last season at the Galicians Celta. “He has worked very hard and deserves it,” said Luis Enrique.

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