Barcelona FC coach Luis Enrique returns to Celta Vigo's Balaidos stadium on Sunday looking to consolidate a four-point advantage at the top of La Liga...
Barcelona FC coach Luis Enrique returns to Celta Vigo’s Balaidos stadium on Sunday looking to consolidate a four-point advantage at the top of La Liga against the team he led successfully last season before taking over at the Nou Camp.
Following a three-year stint in charge of Barca’s B team, Luis Enrique’s management career stumbled at AS Roma in 2011-12 before he won plaudits for inspiring modest Celta to a ninth-placed finish in Spain’s top flight last term.
A former Barca and Spain midfielder, Luis Enrique is a confirmed disciple of the Catalan club’s possession-based, attack-minded playing style.
Celta’s continued success despite a limited budget suggests his positive influence on the club has lingered long after his departure. Celta are 10th with 10 games left and have claimed some impressive wins this season, including a 1-0 upset of Barca at the Nou Camp in November.
They also drew 2-2 at Atletico Madrid in September and followed that up by surprising the champions 2-0 in Galicia in February.
After leaving Celta and taking over from Gerardo Martino at the end of last season, Luis Enrique has guided Barca to the top of La Liga, where they hold a four-point advantage over second-placed Real Madrid.
They are through to the last eight of the Champions League and the final of the King’s Cup and have a chance of repeating 2009’s unprecedented treble of European and Spanish league and Cup crowns.
Barca centre back Gerard Pique said on Wednesday the team had remained true to its playing style but had also become more direct, exploiting the talents of their fearsome attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
“I think the team still has the same philosophy but we have a lot of options,” Pique told reporters.
“With the three great players we have up front, we haven’t had to change the way we play but we do deliver a lot of balls to them because we know they will create scoring chances.
“We still dominate games. The style and philosophy remain the same. Barca always has to be the team that takes the initiative.”
Real host struggling Granada and third-placed Valencia are at home to Villarreal on Sunday, while Atletico, in fourth, play at bottom side Cordoba on Saturday.