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Luis Enrique during the training session / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

[[DES_1]]Atlético Madrid are on their way to the Camp Nou for the second time in ten days, this time for a Spanish Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night at 10.00pm (CET). Manager Luis Enrique told his pre-match press conference that beating the defending Liga champions 3-1 “did us a lot of good, but this will be a very different game and also very difficult one. Atlético are a fearsome side over two legs … We are going to need a better attitude than them and to make the most of every footballing resource we have.”

The Asturian is a huge admirer of Diego Simeone and what he has done for his club. “They’re a very attractive team, any coach can appreciate that and he’s created a role model for what can be done with eleven footballers” he said, adding that he doesn’t expect Atlético to come and defend in the hope of finishing off the job in the return leg. “I think he’ll stay faithful to their idea of how to play against Barça. They’re very strong in defence and in most aspects of attack”.Atlético are a very attractive team, any coach can appreciate that

Barça are at the Camp Nou for the first leg, but the overall outcome will be decided at the Vicente Calderón. Asked if that is a good or bad thing, Luis Enrique’s curious response was that “in the Copa del Rey, I think it’s better to play the second leg away, but in the Champions League I’d rather it was at home. But it’s not such a big factor. Remember, if the teams are tied on aggregate and there’s extra time, the away team has the advantage because their goals count double.”

In whatever case, he insists that “we are going to need our fans, we’re much stronger with their support. We do understand that it’s an awfully late kick-off time and people have to work in the morning, but we do need their help.”

Barça have now won four games in a row, scoring 16 and conceding just one. Have they hit on their best form? Luis Enrique preferred not to answer that question, saying that it would do nobody any good for the team to start getting over-confident. “We will have more difficult matches than these ones and we have to stick together” he said. “There are always things that can be improved, so I’d rather say that this is not us at our best because the best has yet to come.”From what I have seen in my lifetime, Messi is the best player there ever was

He was particularly quizzed about Luis Suárez, who doesn’t seem to be scoring as regularly as he did at Liverpool and Ajax. “The goals will come because we all know that he’s a natural goalscorer” said the FCB manager. “He’s got an extraordinary work-rate. This is his first season and it’s never easy to adapt.”

He ended by commenting that in his own playing days, there was no player quite like either Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but added that “although Cristiano is a top quality player, he’s not as good as Leo. From what I have been able to see of football in my lifetime, Messi is the best player there ever was.”

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Luis Enrique wary but confident about Atlético tie by fcbarcelona

Xavi available

Luis Enrique was asked to clarify the situation regarding injuries. “Xavi trained today and hasn’t been declared fully fit yet, but I’m sure he will be tomorrow” he answered. “Jérémy Mathieu worked on his own today and he certainly won’t be playing.” As for Munir’s status, the FCB manager explained that “he’ll continue switching between the first and second teams, but I like what he does for us and I’m sure I’ll be using him in plenty more first team matches.”


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