Luis Enrique: "Celta is a very special match for me"

Luis Enrique was speaking after Friday training at the  Ciutat Esportiva / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
The FC Barcelona coach was describing Saturday’s game against a team he knows almost inside-out

“They’re a dangerously effective team” he commented. “They don’t speculate”

Luis Enrique doesn’t believe that Celta will either be an especially easy game to prepare for, because he knows the team so well, or a particularly hard one because of the quality of one of the surprise packages of the Liga season so far and who have yet to lose an away fixture. “But there’s no doubt that Celta is a very special match for me because I know all the players” said the man who was in charge of the Vigo based club before coming to Barça in the summer.

Speaking in his pre-match conference on Friday, he described his admiration for what Eduardo Berrizo has added to the Celta side. “They’re a very dangerous and effective team” he commented. “They don’t speculate. They try to hold onto the ball and create a lot of pressure. I’m delighted that they’re having such a good season. They’re showing that both in their football and their results. I have very fond memories of Celta. It’s a small club with big values.”

“They are very good at playing as a unit and are solid in defence” he continued. “They fight back every time they lose the ball, and that’s what makes them so dangerous. It’s going to be difficult match but the objective is the same as ever. To play well and win.”

Luis Enrique also dismisses the idea that there’s a sense of negativity in the team after the painful defeat to Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. “The team has trained hard this week, with the same intensity as they would any other” said the Asturian. “Defeats hurt, there’s no question about that, but over the course of a season you’re going to have to deal with all kinds of situations. It’s not until the end of the season that you can really say whether a team deserves one thing or another. But, all things considered, we’re top of the league at the moment.”

However, he still admits that “we need to keep improving. We need to be able to generate situations that cause a certain amount of danger to the opposition. We need be ready to make the most of each different circumstance and become more unpredictable as a team.” That, he explained, is the main reason why he keeps varying his starting elevens. Unpredictability and versatility are two of the most important things that he wants from his squad.

There was also mention of Luis Suárez, who could be appearing in his first official fixture at the Camp Nou on Saturday. “He’s training very well and at a good rate” said the FCB boss. “We’ll now be getting the chance to see him playing in matches, and that’s when you can really judge him as a player.”

Defeats hurt, there’s no question about that, but over the course of a season you’re going to have to deal with all kinds of situations
We’ll now be getting the chance to see Luis Suárez playing in matches, and that’s when you can really judge him

Friday training session

Rafinha was among the players that trained this morning. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
The whole first team worked out this morning, including Douglas despite not being declared fully fit, and Munir of FC Barcelona B

Barça trained on Friday morning at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper as they continue preparations for Saturday’s Liga clash at home to Celta (8.00 PM CET).

Luis Enrique had all of the available players with him. As on Thursday, Douglas was able train at the same rate as his team-mates, even though he has yet to be declared officially fit. Andrés Iniesta, meanwhile, did further physiotherapy, while Thomas Vermaelen also did specific exercises. Munir of Barça B was also involved.

The team will have a final session on the morning of the game with Celta, and the squad will also be announced on Saturday at around the same time.

Sergi Gómez thrilled to be back home

It's going to be an interesting weekend for Sergi Gómez. PHOTO: VÍCTOR SALGADO-FCB.
The product of the FC Barcelona academy is on his way back to the Camp Nou, this time wearing a Celta shirt

“When you leave Barça you realise what it means to play there” he says, although he’s delighted with the way he’s been treated in Vigo

Sergi Gómez is on his way back to the club where he spent four years in the youth system and a further four years playing for Barça B. Last summer, he left Barcelona for Celta Vigo, and things have being going grand for him in Galicia. Manager Eduardo Berizzo slowly seems to finding a place for him in his plans, either at full or centre back, to the extent that he’s been involved in six of the nine Liga games played so far, three times as a starter and three times as a sub.

The 22 year old, who’s from the Catalan coastal town of Arenys de Mar (the same place as Cesc Fàbregas), spoke to about his new life and the prospect of facing Barça on Saturday at the Camp Nou.

How have your first few months in Vigo gone?
“Very well. I’ve been progressing as a player. I didn’t play much at first and now I’m getting on in nearly every game. I love the team and the city. The people are treating me really well and that’s helped me to integrate”.

What things do you miss?
“When you leave Barça, you realise what he means to play there. The facilities, the infrastructure, they’re on another level. But there are good things about more modest clubs too. There’s more proximity and communication is easier”.[[CITA_1]]

Is your game any different to what it was like during eight years at Barça?
“I wouldn’t say I’ve had to change my football very much because Celta have a very similar philosophy to Barça. We always try to keep the ball and play good, effective football. The coach has brought in his new ideas, which he’s added to the good things we already had before”.

What’s it like to play in defence with old friends like Fontàs and Planas, and with Nolito too?
“It’s like living old times. I’m lucky to have them here and to still be in the same team as them. I have to say that them being here was one added reason why I chose to come to Celta. But my other team-mates have welcomed me nicely too”.

Did you have November 1 marked in your diaries?
“It’s a nice game that anyone would want to play. What most excites me is the idea of going back to the placer where I grew up, because I was at the old Masia. And I’m looking forward to seeing people that I met over the years, and my old team-mates. There are lots of memories to relive, that’s for sure”.

You’ll also be meeting up with Luis Enrique, who gave you your Barça B debut. What do you remember of him?
“Very good things. He put his faith in me making that step. And he continued to show confidence in me and used me for almost all the play-off that got us promoted into Division 2A. I only have good things to say about him”.

What is it about Celta? New players, new managers, but every year they surprise us!
“I think Luis Enrique laid some strong foundations. He made the players hungry and eager to play nice football. Berizzo does the same thing and is very clear about what he wants from us and the fans. That’s very important”.[[CITA_2]]
Should we expect the same daring, joyous football from Celta at the Camp Nou?
“We are a team that likes to play, whatever game it is. The Camp Nou is one of the hardest venues, that’s for sure, but we’ll give it a good go once again”.

What do you expect from Barça after they lost the Clasico?
“I am sure that the players are experienced enough to know how to turn the page. They lost at the Bernabéu, but that can happen. Now they need to immediately switch on to the next match and change the situation”.

There are good things about more modest clubs too. There’s more proximity and communication is easier
Berizzo is very clear about what he wants from us and the fans. That’s very important

Luis Enrique & Berizzo: From field to bench

Luis Enrique and Eduardo Berizzo are two of the youngest managers in La Liga
The FC Barcelona and Celta Vigo managers are both in charge of teams they once played for

For four seasons they were both Liga players, but only faced each other once, and one other time in the UEFA Cup

On Saturday, the Camp Nou brings together two members of the younger generation of coaches, Luis Enrique and Eduardo Berizzo, who are in charge of FC Barcelona and Celta Vigo, respectively. It’s not that long since either of them hung up their boots, and now they are back at clubs where they made their names as players.

Two head-to-heads

In their days at Barça and Celta, Luis Enrique and Berizzo spent four years competing against each other in La Liga. The Argentinian, after shining in the ranks of River Plate, was brought to Galicia for the 2000/01 season. And that was the only year that he and Luis Enrique played in the same match. It happened twice, first in the quarter final second leg of the UEFA Cup, after Luis Enrique had sat out the 2-1 win at the Camp Nou. At Balaídos, they were both on the pitch, and although Celta won 3-2, Barça progressed by virtue of the away goals rule.

Shortly after, Celta returned to the Camp Nou for a Liga fixture that ended 1-1. Berizzo played all 90 minutes, while Luis Enrique was substituted after 82. This was one of the finest Celta teams ever, that year achieving what would be the fourth of a run of six straight top ten finishes. But although they would play Barça several times again, it so happens that Luis Enrique and Berizzo would never be on the pitch at the same time again.

Managing well

After retiring as players, Luis Enrique and Eduardo Berizzo both embarked on managerial careers. The former gained his first experience at Barça B, then AS Roma, and finally Celta, before coming back to the Camp Nou at the start of the current season. And the man who replaced him in Vigo was none other than Berizzo, who before that had coached Estudiantes in his native Argentina before leading O’Higgins to the Chilean championship.

Fourteen years after playing against each other in Barça and Celta shirts, the two managers are now set to face each other again, with the same teams, but in a very different role.

FC Barcelona – Celta de Vigo: TICKETS por fcbarcelona

Catalan Super Cup highlights

Piqué headed home Barça's first half opener / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Recap of Wednesday night’s action in Girona, where FC Barcelona beat RCD Espanyol to win the Catalan title on penalties

Barça won 4-2 on penalties in the Catalan Super Cup match with Espanyol. Here’s a recap of the best of the action from this evening’s game in Girona.

In three minutes, you can admire Luis Suárez’s cunning loft onto Piqué’s head to put Barça in control, and see how Arbilla got Espanyol back level with a well-taken free kick. It ended up going to penalties, with Ivan Rakitic being the man who converted the decisive kick to win the trophy for Barcelona!