Luis Enrique expects an aggressive approach from Manchester City in Tuesday’s Champions League clash at the Etihad Stadium.
Barcelona ran out 4-0 winners thanks to a Lionel Messi hat-trick when the sides met at Camp Nou two weeks ago and now sit five points clear of City in the standings, knowing they only need to avoid defeat in Manchester to reach the knockout stages with two games to spare.
But Luis Enrique does not expect a straightforward assignment against Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders, who he felt acquitted themselves well in the initial match before Claudio Bravo’s rush of blood saw the City goalkeeper sent off for deliberate handball.
“I expect the same type of game as the last one,” he told a pre-match news conference. “I don’t think they can be any more aggressive in terms of pressure because they were pressing us up to the stand almost.
“I expect the same script in terms of a match – two teams with similar objectives; when we have the ball to make the pitch as big as possible, play good football and press high up the pitch
“They are identical philosophies. I think it will be a very similar game. Hopefully we can overcome all the circumstances in the match to win.”
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Even in the event of his pre-match assertions being on the money, Luis Enrique is still prepared for former Barca boss Guardiola to pull a surprise or two in an attempt to tip the balance.
“I think Pep’s Man City have a lot of things going for them,” he said. “They can do many different things and I think you have to adapt to their football, so you can press them but they have a lot of good qualities.
“Playing here is different because we know what we did against them and we sense there will be changes also, because we know Pep and we know his ideas.
“We have to be attentive because Pep as a manager will try to touch the right key to get the result.”
City’s 4-0 win at West Brom on Saturday ended a run of six matches without a win in all competitions, but Luis Enrique has been particularly impressed by Guardiola’s early efforts in England.
“We can be impressed by what he has done in three months at Manchester City. I love the philosophy, I love his ideas,” he added.
“He has had an impact in three months and every month that goes by they will improve. I think the future for City is bright and attractive.”
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