ACE IN THE PACK

Naive not to be Messi-de­pen­dent, says En­rique

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA boss Luis En­rique in­sists his side’s reliance on Lionel Messi is per­fectly nor­mal when you have “the best player in the world” on your side.

Messi has kept Barca’s La Liga ti­tle chal­lenge alive with late winners in 2-1 wins over Le­ganes and Atletico Madrid in their last two out­ings to take his tally for the sea­son to 35 goals in as many games.

How­ever, Barca have still to tie down Messi’s longterm fu­ture at the Nou Camp. The five-time World Player of the Year has just over a year to run on his

Hope­fully we can de­pend on him for many years to come.

LUIS EN­RIQUE

Barcelona man­ager

con­tract with talks over a new deal on­go­ing.

“It would be naive to think we wouldn’t de­pend on the best player in the world,” said En­rique on Tues­day.

“Hope­fully we can de­pend on him for many years to come.”

Vic­tory at Atletico eased some­what the mount­ing pres­sure on En­rique af­ter a 4-0 thrash­ing at Paris Saint-Ger­main two weeks ago left the Cata­lans on the verge of bow­ing out at the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in 10 years.

In par­tic­u­lar, his tac­ti­cal shift from Barca’s tra­di­tional pos­ses­sion based game to a more di­rect style de­signed to get the best out of a su­per­star front three of Messi, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar has been crit­i­cised.

How­ever, En­rique in­sisted that pos­ses­sion is only a means to an end.

“The key to hav­ing pos­ses­sion is not just to have it for the sake of it, but to have pos­ses­sion as a means of reach­ing a goal, and the goal is win­ning games,” he added.

“If the op­po­nent sits back and al­lows long pas­sages of play in pos­ses­sion they don’t leave you spa­ces to find gaps.

“If they de­cide to press high and leave space then it doesn’t make sense too not take ad­van­tage of that and in two touches over­come the press to score a goal.”

Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores the win­ner against Atletico Madrid on Sun­day. Barca won 2-1.

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