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"If Sampaoli likes Barcelona, he’s got good taste"

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique spoke to the press ahead of the Spanish Supercup. "We know we’ll get a hot reception in Seville."

Luis Enrique en sala de prensa.

Do you expect a much-changed Sevilla?

They have made changes compared to last season. They’ve got a new manager and Sampaoli has his own philosophy which I like. If they were dangerous before, they’re more so now. They link up well, they are well set-up and they have made good signings. They have been a reference in Europe for years and they continue to be. I like what I’ve seen of them.

What can you tell us about interest in Alcácer?

I don’t normally comment on players that are not here. If I changed that rule I’d have to talk about 543 strikers and 200 more wingers who have been mentioned in the press. I’m just concentrating on the [Supercup] title.

What have you seen during pre-season that you like and what needs to be improved?

The player’s attitude is what I like most. Those that have been here for a long time, those who have been here less and the new players. In two years here I haven’t had to intervene in a training exercise to push the players harder. What haven’t I liked? I haven’t seen anything to concern me. There are things to improve but we’re working on it. Maybe we lack a little match fitness because of the players’ holidays and it’s going to be a long season. But that won’t be an excuse and we have to go for it from day one.

Is Messi returning to play for Argentina good news?

For me watching Leo play football is great news, whatever the shirt he’s wearing. It’s good news for football.

Will Jordi Alba be fit to play?

He completed the session today. He’s available.

Do the gaps in defence worry you?

This is a collective sport, it doesn’t depend only on defenders. We’ve conceded a lot of goals due to individual errors, which is rare in these players. It’s happened and it will continue to happen but we have to be watchful. I know my players and the team will gel together and we’ll continue to be a difficult team for any opponent. Ask them. We have to improve across the board.

Is the Supercup a sticking point?

No. I don’t have many of those, or any at all. If you don’t win it’s because the opposition was better than you and you have to congratulate them. It’s an important title and getting off on the best possible foot will be ideal. We know we’ll get a hot reception and the same in terms of the temperature in Seville in August.

Does Ter Stegen’s injury alter your plans?

I make decisions based on the players I have available. I don’t make plans in advance.

How do you rate Samper at the moment?

I know him perfectly. He’s a quality player. He’s more of an anchor midfielder but he can adapt to play in the centre. He hasn’t had much playing time because of the squad we have. We’ll see what the best option is for him. We’ve got time to talk to him.

Do you know Sampaoli?

I haven’t had the chance to meet him. I like coaches with an attacking philosophy who offer something attractive to the fans. If he likes Barcelona, he’s got good taste. I wish him success.

Are you in favour of changing the timing of the Supercups with the teams not yet fully up and running?

Without doubt. Arranging the fixture list is important so that players get sufficient rest and the spectacle isn’t affected. But Mr Business is in charge, there’s a lot of money at stake. There would be fewer injuries and more entertainment for the fans.


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