FC Barcelona have begun their season well and are expected to be in contention to retain their UEFA Champions League title, but manager Luis Enrique has insisted there are no favourites in Europe’s premier cup competition.
The Catalan giants have started their season in fine form, winning each of their opening three La Liga fixtures, including an impressive win away against Atl tico Madrid on Saturday. Luis Enrique’s men now take on AS Roma in their Champions League Group E opener on Wednesday hoping to continue the run of good form.
AS Roma have also started their season on a positive note, and manager Rudi Garc a has declared that his side will play with ‘humility, but also ambition’ to try and get a result against FC Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico.
Luis Enrique insists there are no favourites once Champions League kicks off
FC Barcelona have won the competition four times in the past decade, more than any other team in Europe. The Spanish giants will once again be among the favourites given the quality in the squad, and will aim to become the first club to retain their Champions League group since the re-branding of the competition.
Speaking at his press-conference ahead of the game, Luis Enrique was quoted by the club’s official website as saying: “The objective of winning the second consecutive Champions League is not added pressure, ita s a marvelous stimulus for the fans and the team. We will try but it is not added pressure, quite the opposite.
“If we were favourites for having won the league, we are also favourites for having won the Champions League. You have to show it out on the field and here is the difficulty. When the ball is in motion there are no champions, no favourites, just 32 teams who all want to be champions.”
The former FC Barcelona player also had words of praise for Lionel Messi, who was controversially left on the bench for the game against Atl tico Madrid, with the Argentine coming on in the second half and scoring the winner.
“Messi is the best player I have ever coached. Not just the best player in the world for me, the best in history,” said Enrique.
Rudi Garc a aiming for positive result against FC Barcelona
AS Roma have made a good start to their Serie A season, already claiming a major scalp in the form of Italian champions and Champions League finalists Juventus, and will be hoping to continue their good form when they take on FC Barcelona on Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of the game, the French manager said (via official club website): “We know Barcelona are a top side and the reigning European champions. They’ve won their first three league matches and there’s no need to repeat all the praise they’ve been given. We know all about them. If they’re not the best in the world, they’re certainly up there.
“We’ll play with humility tomorrow but also ambition. We want to qualify for the next round and to do so we’ll need to perform as well as we can in all six games in order to pick up points.”
Garc a also spoke about the potential impact of Chelsea FC loanee Mohamed Salah, with the former Lille manager expressing his delight to have a player with the pace and technical ability of the Egypt international.
“Salah is a great player,” Garc a said. “He’s not been with us for very long but he’s learning the team’s style all the time, just as his team-mates are getting to know how he plays. He’s quick and technical. They’re important attributes to make the difference in modern football.”