Speaking to the press ahead of the clash against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League at the Camp Nou, FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has revealed that he has devised a plan which aims to counter Lionel Messi’s absence.
Messi suffered a chronic knee injury in Barcelona’s 2-1 home win over Las Palmas on Saturday which will keep him out of action for 7-8 weeks.
Luis Enrique struck an optimistic note when he revealed that FC Barcelona have the necessary firepower and the ability to cope with the loss of Lionel Messi.
Barcelona Can Cope Without Messi
Speaking ahead of Barcelona’s clash with Bayer Leverkusen, Luis Enrique asserted (via ESPNFC) that, “there is no substitute for Messi, it will be a challenge to be competitive without him. But we are going to have the same football plan that we use but with other players.”
“During preseason we had matches without Messi, Neymar, we used the same plan with other players. It is a challenge to be competing minus the best player in the world. Pretending to be able to substitute a player like Leo is impossible.
“It is impossible that a manager can ask a player to take a step forward, that is [the player’s] job.
“That is how I understand it. Neymar must continue to be Neymar and he does that very well. Luis Suarez must continue to be Luis Suarez, he also does that well. They all must take a step forward.
“He [Messi] came here yesterday so we could see him and he was cheering us on. Now he has two fewer days that he will be in recovery. Time is working in his favour. I see him in a very good mood.”
Leverkusen game key to the Group
Luis Enrique further went on to warn his side to not take opponents Bayer Leverkusen lightly, about whom he said, “Bayer are a very intense team, they defend very well and they are strong physically.”
“They did really well last season in the Champions League and they will cause us problems. Ita s a key game in the group. It is an attractive fixture.
“We are always looking to control the game and to find our opponentsa weak points. I am sure they will cause us problems.a
a They are a different kind of side to most other German teams.
a It will be a tough game in every sense and we will have to play very well.
a If you want to win the group you have to perform at home.
a FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 28, 2015
Bravo, Alba fit to face Leverkusen; Adriano Out
Luis Enrique updated the media on the fitness of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and left-back Jordi Alba.
Enrique revealed that the Costa Rican International, who has been out of action since the beginning of the season, “has trained with the group for the last two days” and is available for selection along with Jordi Alba.
On Adriano, Enrique disclosed that “he [Adriano] has not trained because he picked up a knock against Las Palmas. It will be difficult for him to be considered.”