Saturday, March 25, 2017

Luis Enrique plans to keep Sergi Roberto on his toes

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 24 Sep 2016

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Luis Enrique has claimed Sergi Roberto’s future does not necessarily lie at right-back for Barcelona despite another impressive performance in the 5-0 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

The 24-year-old, normally a midfielder, has made a name for himself at fullback so far this season, keeping Aleix Vidal out of the team and supplying two assists, while having a major hand in another goal, during a big win for the Liga champions at El Molinon.

There have even been suggestions he could rival Dani Carvajal of Real Madrid for a place in the Spain defence, but Luis Enrique suggested Roberto’s conversion to a wide role, while hugely successful so far, may not be permanent. 

“It depends on the situation,” he told a news conference.

“I think there is no better [player on the] right … than Sergi Roberto,” he said.

“I have seen many games, and I can’t see a better player than him for this position, to play for Barcelona, because we are a team with a lot of possession. 

“But he can [also] play inside or [as a] pivot. I love that he feels good playing at that position. It is very good for us to have a versatile player like him … it gives us a lot of [options].”

Luis Enrique made five changes to his starting XI, Lionel Messi missing out due a groin injury and Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba all dropping to the bench ahead of the Champions League match away to Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday.

“We have many possibilities in the team,” the Barca boss said.

“Depending on what we see, we utilise different players. It is interesting as a coach to have the options to change [who is on the] bench when needed.”

Sporting began promisingly enough and held their own even after going 2-0 down in the first half, but collapsed late on when captain Alberto Lora was sent off for committing a second bookable offence.

“[We are] very happy for the victory,” Luis Enrique said.

“[To] play and win away from home is a dangerous [task] and more [so] against Sporting, who have great intensity. 

“We were able to create chances to settle before the break and then in the second half we struggled to get into the game. 

“They did not generate chances, but neither did they let us move.

“The result was misleading. It sounded simple, but it was not. Not at all.”

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