Luis Enrique talked up Barcelona’s chances this season, insisting the two-time defending LaLiga champions are the “team to beat” in 2016-17.
The upcoming campaign is tipped to be another successful one for Barcelona, who retained their LaLiga crown last term, while claiming the Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
Barca have bolstered their stocks with the signings of Andre Gomes, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne and Denis Suarez, a quartet complementing an already star-studded squad, spearheaded by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta.
And after watching Barca see off Sampdoria 3-2 thanks to Messi’s brace in Wednesday’s Joan Gamper Trophy clash, Luis Enrique said: “I see the team with an enormous ambition, we still have things to rectify.
“I think that we begin the season as the team to beat. I am very happy with how the season looks, we shall see if we are able to handle it well.”
Barca ended their pre-season on a winning note, though they were made to work for victory against the Italians.
A pair of goals in the space of five first-half minutes from Luis Suarez and Messi put Barca 2-0 up, but Sampdoria pulled a goal back within two minutes via Luis Muriel.
Messi completed his brace by curling a trademark free-kick past Emiliano Viviano in the 34th minute, while Ante Budimir netted a late consolation goal for Sampdoria 13 minutes from the end.
Luis Enrique, who handed Gomes, Umtiti, Digne and Denis Suarez their Camp Nou bows midweek, added: “I liked almost everything, against a team that we had seen play well and press in pre-season.
“[Any other team] would have suffered a heavy defeat, but instead we suffered until the end to win.”
“In pre-season, I am only concerned with the physical tone of my players; in that sense we still need time because we have had a special kind of pre-season, some players began later due to their holidays and that sometimes can be seen, some errors stem from that,” continued Luis Enrique, whose Barca now turn their attention to the opening leg of the Supercopa de Espana at Sevilla on Sunday.