The most infinite detail would be all that matters when Barcelona entertains Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League last 4 meeting, according to Luis Enrique as he prepares to welcome his former team-mate to the Camp Nou.
Both Enrique and Guardiola spent a total of twenty years each playing for Barcelona and played in the same squad between 1996-97 and 2000-01. They also managed Barca’s B Team before going on to manage the first team.
Enrique says Bayern are much improved since Guardiola took over the reins in 2012, but feels the identity of the man in the dugout is of less significance in the present stage in “Europe’s most attractive game.”
“This isn’t about plotting to beat Pep, it’s about facing and beating Bayern in a European semi-final. On top of which he is a friend of mine and I always think nice things about my friends,” Enrique said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“I get the impression that Bayern have changed their style since Guardiola arrived. he’s taken all of the good things Bayern had and put his stamp on them, a style which as you all know, I like a lot.
“There’s a side which is intense at the back, they concede few goals and there’s one of the top teams in Europe, without a shadow of doubt.”
And why would Guardiola not want to raise up dusts on his return to the club he managed for 4 successful years? His opposite number expects “one or two” of those football tricks which saw him win three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey and Champions League apiece between 2008 and 2012 while also doing the treble in his first season with the Catalans.
“Through the current season we have been resolving matches and overcoming obstacles that our rivals have put in our ways,no we’ll be trying to do the same… Even if it’s Pep who we are up against,” Enrique beamed in confidence.
Like Guardiola, the Asturian boss could be in line for a treble in his first season, as Barca prepare to face Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on 30 May while they maintain a two-point lead over rivals Real Madrid at the top of the league table with three games left till end of the season.
“I love that word, but we professionals know that you can easily go from having the chance to win three trophies to winning none at all,” The 44-year-old said. “We are in the right conditions to achieve it, but you can’t sell the animal skin until you’ve caught the bear, as they say. first we have to reach the final.”
Polish striker Robert Lewandowski is likely to be risked for the Barca game and could wear a mask to help avoid further damage to his face injury.
Bayern are without Holger Badstuber (thigh), David Alaba (knee), Arjen Robben (calf), Franck Ribéry (ankle), and Sebastian Rode (muscular problems), but Enrique thinks they have managed to cope with injury concerns so far this season.
“They’ve managed all the way through the season. Independently of the players they field, we will be trying to get through this round,” Enrique noted.