Luis Enrique predicts 'open and attractive' tie against PSG

FC Barcelona

The Barcelona manager expects a thrilling first-leg encounter between his side and Paris Saint Germain, as both teams clash in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The first question posed to Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, at his Champions League preview press call at Parc des Princes, was regarding what formation he'll utilise against PSG, given the absence of suspended right-back, Dani Alves. and having utilised a 3-4-3 as opposed to the habitual 4-3-3 in the past.

Asked if playing three at the back would be a great risk, at the quarter-final stage of the competition, Enrique responded: "Playing a 3-4-3? I wouldn't consider that too much of a risk. It's a game we're looking to win and play well, so no, I don't think it would be too risky a system."

PSG have some notable absences for the first-leg encounter, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Luiz, whilst Thiago Motta is also a doubt. As for any influence this might have on the outcome of the game, Enrique analysed:

"They clearly have some players missing, but something that can't be hidden, remembering the group stage game, is when we played them without Ibrahimovic and they beat us. When Ibrahimovic did play, we won. So, they are important players without a doubt, but they have n ample squad and they're going to create difficulties for us. In the end, you never know what's better or not." 

Looking back to the 3-2 defeat suffered in the group stages of the competition, during their last visit to the Parc des Princes, Enrique was asked if he feels his side have matured since then, along with if that game has provided anything to learn from, when it comes to the quarter-final clash.

He replied: "I think we're just as mature as we always have been. We're a little bit older and wiser perhaps. I recall that it wasn't a good game for us, in terms of the result, but we came very close to getting a draw on a number of occasions. We can improve on that. There were certain aspects, particularly defensively, that we need to improve on. Especially tomorrow, given the result we're looking for."

In addition and past results aside, Enrique alsosuggested: "There are various important possibilities, as both teams have important players missing. It's going to be a very open game and one I think will be very entertaining."

Asked what he likes the most about his Barcelona team at the moment, Enrique answered confidently: "Everything... I like everything about my team. That's why we are where we are." However, he also acknowledged: "We always need to improve, that's evident. We need to win things. Every statistic and every aspect of our play can be improved on, but that's what being a team is all about: Improvement."

Continuing, the Barcelona manager underlined what his team will look to achieve from the encounter with PSG, explaining: "We'll be setting ourselves out for this game as we always do, trying to win the first encounter and trying to forget that it's a knock-out game."

"There will be no speculation and we won't be looking for anything other than a win. However, we know that we're playing against a team who will be aspiring to do the same, and they're a top quality team. But our objectives remain the same as they have always been, from the very first day."

When it was pointed out to him, just how dangerous PSG can be, particularly having secured their passage in the previous round with ten-men against Chelsea, Enrique noted: "We feel almost at home coming to this stadium, as we've played PSG several times over recent years. I think they're a really good team.

"I already said at the start of the season, they're one of the candidates to win the Champions League. They've already beaten one of the other strong candidates, Chelsea."

"This clearly shows they're contenders for the title. They played two really complete games against Chelsea, they're into the quarter-finals and they fully deserve to be here. It will be a very open and attractive game tomorrow."

At the weekend, the Spanish media made a great deal about gestures of discontent from Brazilian star Neymar, after he was substituted away at Sevilla in La Liga. Asked if he was angered or annoyed by the antics of the player, Enrique claimed:

"I haven't seen these pictures. From where we are inside the stadium, I couldn't see the expressions on his face, but as a manager, I can understand that all players want to play every minute, without exception."

The Asturuan coach was, however, clear to point out: "The players have to understand that I'm the manager, I have to make decisions. From there, you can speculate or draw whatever kind of conclusions, you want to."

Asked about the form of the 'MSN' trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar, by a proud South American journalist, Enrique agreed: "They're all doing very well. They do a great deal for the team, not just offensively, which is obvious, but also defensively. They're playing at a great level, as is the whole team."

At the suggestion there are continued fears about the fitness of Lionel Messi, the Barcelona boss bluntly responded: "Sorry, but that's not something I'll be talking about."

Finally and prompted again about the gestures of discontent from Neymar, especially the media attention they generated in Spain, and at such a crucial stage of the season.

Enrique completely blanked out the question and concluded indifferently, with an amusing anecdote: "It's 14th April, it's my mother's birthday today, so happy birthday mum!"

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