matchdays | 2015-05-07
Luis Enrique: It was the perfect outcome
"We will go to Munich to win"
After Neymar scored the third goal for Barcelona, the players and trainers on the bench fused in a collective celebration with excitement. At halftime, though, the goalless draw didn´t omen such an outstanding outcome at the end. Iniesta revealed: “Luis Enrique told us at halftime to stick to our game plan and try to hold onto the ball more.” The Asturian coach further explained: “I urged the usual message: be faithful to our philosophy and keep the pressure.”
This was especially relevant after Guardiola changed tactics during the match. “We knew Pep was going to try something different and we prepared the match accordingly,” said Busquets. “We thought he may display both options (three or four defenders). He tried to alter our playing style, but we know each other very well and it’s hard to mutually surprise ourselves,” added Iniesta.
Alba said: "We've again showed the team is very united, and the support of the fans also helped a lot," while Busquets was full of praise for his team’s number 10: "Messi is a guarantee. He's the best player in the world, even if he doesn't get the awards. Everyone in football knows."
Asked if this was his best night as a coach, Luis Enrique said: “It’s been a great night but I hope the best night of my coaching career is yet to come.”
The possession battle was arduous, with Barça with a slight edge of 51%. “I always pay attention to the teams who want to take the ball away from us. And against Pep I knew it was going to be like that. We had to know how to defend without the ball, recover it quickly and generate scoring chances,” said Luis Enrique. “This was a difficult match and we expected that. Both teams tried to apply pressure. We did well creating chances, more so than Bayern, and in the space of 15 passionate minutes we won the match. But we have to wait for next Tuesday because that’s another tough game.”
“It was a very even match for a long time. We were quite effective and created more chances than they did. We will play to win next week, just as Bayern came here to win. We carved out lots of opportunities whereas I remember a chance for Robert Lewandowski for Bayern and that’s about it. The result is impressive but the match was extremely even,” the coach added.
“Of course life is easier with Lionel Messi. He does all sorts of things. We see that every day. He is from another planet. Besides what we saw from Leo, all the other forwards, midfielders and defenders contributed a lot too.”
“In a semi-final, small details make the difference. We have three extremely good players in attack – Leo won it for us. We pressed well, waited for the right moment and were very clinical at the end. I wouldn’t say we are through. We have seen all sorts in football. I failed maths at school so I am not interested in percentages. The prize is so big that my players will treat the second leg with the right intensity.”
The tie is far from over though. With 90 minutes left to be played at the Allianz Arena the squad needs to keep the focus on the main purpose: Berlin. Luis Enrique warned in this regard: “It was the perfect outcome that get us closer to the final but we still have the second leg match. We’ll be there to win the match and succeed in every aspect of the game. There is not another approach for us.”
The coach also thanked the fans for their support: ”I applaud the fans, who were magnificent tonight. They sung the hymn acapella and we’re delighted that they are optimistic and excited but this tie has not been resolved yet and we need their support.”
Luis Enrique concluded by praising his defense and the work of Marc Andre Ter Stegen, stressing the importance of keeping a clean sheet against a powerful attacking side like Bayern Munich: “We didn’t concede and they hardly created any chances. That means we defended very well. We stole balls back in their area too, so our attitude was excellent and I am delighted with the result.”
“They are a team similar to us because they strive to maintain the possession, find spaces and be superior. It has been a very beautiful match, quite demanding physically,” expressed Iniesta.
Andrés also confessed to nearly go insane after Messi’s outstanding second goal: “What a goal, what a goal, I told him something like that, I don’t know. I was shouting”, said the Spanish midfielder, who tried to define Messi once more: “Leo is one of kind and everything he does is unique. He does things that look easy, but no one else can do that. He can decide a game in any moment, change the outcome in an instant, and for us that’s a guarantee for success.”
The game was played on the 6th anniversary of the Iniestazo at Stamford Bridge and Iniesta said: “It’s a great day to remember that and celebrate it twofold.” But he was careful about the second leg of the semifinal in Munich: “We have to keep going the way we are, because the rivals are very good and will take advantage of that. In the next game in Germany we have to do things very well to get to the final.”
For his part, Leo Messi said: “We had the luck to get a goal, the first, and after the other two followed very close together and we ended up with a very good result for the second leg, which is what we wanted.”
Messi’s euphoric celebration of the first goal stood-out but the Argentine downplayed it. “It was a joy for what the goal meant. We had not scored and it was a big goal in the tie,” he said of it.
In addition, Messi also called for concentration for next week’s return match. “Germany is a very difficult place to go. We got a very good result but we must go further and not be complacent.”
Asked about Neuer and Boateng who were his victims, Leo said it was all a very natural action: " Neuer? He's really good, we had some chances before the 1-0. Do I have something against Boateng, to dribble him like that? (smiles) I thought he would cover my best foot, so I went the other way"
Messi added: “No, we’re not celebrating anything tonight. I'm going home now, to be with my wife and my son, who'll surely be sleeping already."
Neymar was also cautious when speaking about the result: “We’re going to go to Germany and play that game like it’s the last game of our lives. I’m very happy to have scored. I always want to help the team, and I did that with this goal, but we can’t go to Munich relaxed, this isn’t over yet. Playing the CL final is my childhood's dream. We made a big step, but we should stay very careful.”
Asked about Messi’s game, the Brazilian said: “It's difficult to be better than Messi; he's the No.1 and I just try to learn with him.”
“We know that Bayern are a very strong team," Ivan Rakitic warned. "They have turned adverse results around and we know that playing in their stadium will be different. We are going to work as hard as we can."
With Messi, whose two goals were sublime, on side, Rakitic must know that Barça now have a huge advantage.
"There is no-one like him in the world," the former Sevilla man said about his Argentine colleague. "Thank God he plays for us! We are very happy with his goals and his work, but above all for the work we all did today.
"We worked the entire game in search of the goal. We never dropped our pace and we keep looking for opportunities. We have unbelievable players in attack."
Javier Mascherano spoke about the preparations for the game: “We knew that Pep [Guardiola] would try to win on any pitch and in any stadium, and they came to press higher, but sometimes when you go and try and press high, you take risks and we know we had a lot of people in front with quality to make the difference.
“We were lucky to score, so they tried to play a little bit wider and we could find some spaces to play on the counterattack and that is the way we scored the last two goals.”
Mascherano then went on the praise the team’s forwards: “We have Messi, so it is an advantage for us. It was a very tight and difficult game, but we had the best chances to score. I think we played how we wanted to play beforehand, so we are really happy.”
“Messi is a player who is impossible to describe. You just have to watch him, so we are happy as it is a good result, but we need to think about next week and try to do our job to be in the final.”
“It is important when we can play a little bit deep and to try and play counterattack and to have the players we have like Neymar, Messi and Suarez.”
Masche was also very careful when discussing the second leg:“Now we know how difficult it will be in Germany. It is a good advantage, but it is not done. We have to keep the mentality and go in with the same mentality that we went in with today and try to do our jobs.”
Gerard Piqué praised his team’s collective work and defensive efforts: “We played a sensational game. We played well defensively because they didn’t get a shot on goal and for a team like Bayern to not get a shot on goal it’s sensational. Then we took advantage of the opportunities we had in attack and we did a lot of damage in the counter attack.”
“We’re used to not having control in various phases of the game and we didn’t feel uncomfortable. We knew this was going to happen.”
Piqué then spoke of the two keepers on show tonight: “Neuer? I don’t know if he’s the best in the world. We also have Ter Stegen and Claudio. He’s quality, but we don’t allow many goals and this comes down to our goalkeepers.”
When it came time to talk about his good friend Leo, Gerard said: “Guardiola knows Messi very well and knows that if he’s inspired, nobody can stop him. He scored two fantastic goals.”
As for the plan in the return leg, the defender knew what they have to do: “Nobody knows in football. They are a great team with great fans. We need to score a goal to force them to score five.”
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