Sunday, April 22, 2018

Champions League Final: Allegri, Luis Enrique answer critics

SoccerNews in La Liga 4 Jun 2015


The questions have been answered, and the protestations silenced.

Even before Luis Enrique’s Barcelona and Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus meet in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday, the coaches have proven many wrong.

Allegri barely had time to get the keys to his office before fans were protesting his appointment.

Meanwhile Luis Enrique, in his first season in charge, got a little more time before his squad rotation was questioned following – by Barca’s high standards – an indifferent start to the campaign.

Come Saturday in Berlin, both Allegri and Luis Enrique have led their teams to league-and-cup doubles – and for one that will become a treble.

Allegri faced the harshest criticism, and that on the back of having to fill the big shoes of Antonio Conte, who had led Juve to three consecutive league titles before departing to take on the Italy job.

That put the pressure on former Milan coach Allegri, yet he stuck true to his methods in the face of heavy criticism.

“Little by little we’ll see where we end up,” he said in October last year after his team’s motivation levels were questioned.

One of Allegri’s first and biggest steps was improving his relationship with star midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who he released at Milan in 2011.

Allegri had told Pirlo he would play on the left side of midfield, and the veteran felt that was an indication he could no longer “be Pirlo”.

A good coach recognises his mistakes, and Allegri did just that to ensure Pirlo remained a key part of his team.

Luis Enrique had even more pressing problems with a huge name at Camp Nou.

The former Roma coach endured an early-season rift with superstar Lionel Messi, with a report in January going as far as to suggest the pair no longer spoke.

Whatever the state of their relationship now, Messi is performing and has helped Barca into the Champions League final with 10 European goals.

Luis Enrique’s other problem early on was criticism of his decisions to rotate his squad – one that appears to have worked very well.

He defended himself time and time again and it has benefitted Barcelona at the pointy end of the season.

Allegri and Luis Enrique have maintained strong character and even stronger stances, and the rewards have followed.

In Berlin, one of their teams will complete a famous treble.


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