Luis Enrique has voiced his delight at the fitness of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar ahead of Barcelona’s Copa del Rey match with Athletic Bilbao.
The trio enjoyed a prolonged holiday to recharge their batteries after an intense 2016 and Luis Enrique was pleased to see his strategy pay off.
“We have been able to enjoy some well-earned holidays and I am pleasantly surprised with the players since their return,” Luis Enrique said when asked about the fitness of Barca’s feared MSN attack.
“They have come back in better shape than when they left.
“I am very happy with the response in training sessions and their performance levels. All my players are ready to compete.”
Barcelona will be looking to start 2017 on a high when they face Athletic in the last 16 on Thursday, but Luis Enrique has acknowledged a tough task awaits.
“Playing against Athletic is always difficult and it is no different because it is the first game of the year,” he added.
“We face a club that we know well. The tie will be a difficult one and first we need to go to their ground knowing how dangerous Athletic are. They will put pressure on us and it will be an interesting tie to watch.
“I don’t think Athletic will change the way they defend. They are very brave and they are a team that try and overwhelm you with their pressing. They aren’t scared of leaving spaces in behind.
“In the league they caused us problems and I expect the Athletic that turns up for big occasions. It will be difficult. The pressure will be high both on and off the pitch and I expect us to play well from what I have seen of my players since the start of 2017.”
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