Barcelona played their best football in two years in the first half of Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Manchester City, according to Luis Enrique.
The Spanish champions took the lead at the Etihad Stadium through Lionel Messi, but were made to pay for some sloppy mistakes as Pep Guardiola’s side ultimately ran out 3-1 winners.
Errors from Sergi Roberto and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, combined with a general slump in their performance in the second half, prompted criticism of Barca both in England and Spain.
Luis Enrique, however, says their football early on was the finest he has seen since taking charge in 2014 and insists the detractors do not concern him.
“If you look at the first 40 minutes in Manchester, I think they were the best in this era, since I came here,” he said on Saturday.
“In the first year we were vilified and then we won more titles than anyone. A little more care wouldn’t be a bad thing.
“The critics don’t interest me at all. I have already gone over the game enough with my players. I’m not worried at all.”
A number of reports have suggested that Messi was involved in a heated argument with City coach Mikel Arteta in the tunnel after the match, but Luis Enrique would not be drawn on the matter.
“I have nothing to add on that,” he said.
Barca take on high-flying Sevilla on Sunday, as they look to put pressure on LaLiga leaders Real Madrid, who sit two points clear of the champions at the top.
The Catalans are the only team to have won at Sevilla this term, having claimed a 2-0 victory in the first leg of their Spanish Supercopa triumph in August, and Luis Enrique is hoping for a repeat performance against Jorge Sampaoli’s men.
“They’re continuing to evolve their team, having changed their coach. They’re having a spectacular start to the season,” he added. “They look really strong at home, playing good football. It’ll be a very difficult game.
“You have to win all your games, irrespective of whether it’s after a negative result. We need points to close on first place.
“The last game [against Sevilla] is a useful reference point, but it won’t determine what we’ll face. We’re the only team to have won at the Sanchez Pizjuan this season. We want to repeat that.
“To beat Sevilla, we have to win all the battles, not only in the middle of the pitch. We need to have a complete game. There are a lot of key factors.”
Sevilla are fourth in the table, just one point behind Barca.