BARCELONA | LUIS ENRIQUE
"The Champions League isn't an indicator of a team's season"
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique praised Claudio Bravo but declined to talk about Paco Alcácer in Saturday's meeting with the press.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique weighed up tomorrow's rivals Athletic Club in the company of the press this afternoon. The coach will be without Mathieu, Iniesta and Neymar, as well as recent arrival Japser Cillessen, but Ter Stegen, Mascherano, Rafinha and André Gomes are all fit to play. The coach also gave his opinion on Thursday's Champions League draw.
First away game of the new season - San Mamés: “One of Athletic's characteristics is that their market is limited and they sign very few players. We'll see the same as always - a great spectacle. The first thing that enters our heads is the pleasure of being able to enjoying playing at San Mamés. Athletic are going to press us every time we try to move forward. It's always one of our most difficult away games”.
Samper's loan move to Granada and Munir's future: “I don't normally comment on these matters. I only speak about the players I have in the squad. Samper was in two minds about getting a few minutes here with us or playing regularly at the top level, and if he does well, come back to us. There are numerous examples of players who have stayed on, such as Sergi Roberto - or others who have returned as better players and both of those options are valid. I think Samper's made the right choice. Granada's coach is a fan of good football and I hope he performs to a high level”.
Claudio Bravo's goodbye and the goalkeeping situation: “Now, at least I am able to talk about the goalkeepers. Commenting before wouldn't have made any sense because these operations take their time to be completed and because for Bravo to leave, we needed to find a replacement. As for Bravo's contribution to the team during his time here - incredible, a model professional and a unique person who brought so much to the side when there were serious question marks hanging over the goalkeeping position. All three goalkeepers' comportment has been excellent and I want all culés to know that”.
Champions League draw: “When we talk about the Champions League, we talk about an amazing competition, a very attractive tournament…But as a competition, it is not an accurate indicator of how a team performs over the season as a whole - only the domestic league can show that. Don't get me wrong, it's a marvellous competition and we would love to win it every year forever. But it has other values which affect it. We all know that the Champions League is demanding. I love the fact that we've drawn City for the added spice and fascination of Bravo and Pep coming back… I'm happy that we've got City so that Bravo say wave off the fans".
Arda as a striker: “Arda hasn't changed. He looks the same to me and I love players who can switch to different positions. He'll keep playing just behind the centre-forward, out wide… he has been in a positive trajectory since last season”.
Champions League draws: “I don't know if lotteries exist or not, I don't tend to watch draws. The last one I actually watched was about 10 years ago”.
What about Alcácer? “I love that question but I only talk about Barça players”.
But is it Alcácer or no one? “I've already answered that”.
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