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Luis Enrique: ‘Messi reads the game like nobody else’

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Luis Enrique: ‘Messi reads the game like nobody else’

The Barcelona coach talked after the victory over the Basque side which made Barça advanced in the Copa del Rey

And there you have it, the remuntada is complete. Barcelona beat Athletic Club 3-1 at the Camp Nou and advanced to the Last 8 Round of the Spanish Cup. Guided by a stellar Neymar and with Lionel Messi netting in yet another astonishing free kick goal, the Blaugranas broke the bad omens and are still alive in the three competitions in play.

The Barça head coach, Luis Enrique, expressed his delight about the team’s performance in the clutch situations: "I’m really happy with the way the team played. It was just like in other recent games, with the team at top speed both in attack and defence. We were by far the better team and I’m really pleased with the way this tie has gone.”

He then continued praising his players: "The team were especially accurate today, we played superb all game and created loads of goal chances. In games like this you can’t make mistakes but we controlled the whole match. They scored with the only chance they had, but the team kept calm. We have this issue which is the opponents have been doing very little but scoring against us but the team’s attitude is the best guarantee in order to have a much needed winning streak.”

“Athletic came to the Camp Nou with the same idea which was to pressure us but our plan was to find different solutions. With their high pressure, we have been somewhat hasty at the beginning of the first half but the players have read the match very well and have been superior to the rivals and they deserved to go through the next round. We did well in every phase of the game. At the start when the opposition were fresh, in the second half when the penalty gave us some breathing space, and after their goal when things were matched again. We kept creating chances and weren’t troubled at the back. These two games have been very tight. But now we’re through to the quarters and whoever we play will be there on their own merit."

The Asturian coach remarked the value of having the best player in the world in his ranks: "Leo Messi was as decisive as ever. I hope he stays here for many more years. There’s nobody better than him. It’s not just his goals, it’s also the way he reads the game, he always picks the right option and makes the people around him better wherever he is on the pitch."

Concerning the controversy about Messi’s renewal and Barcelona CEO Oscar Grau’s comments about having “common sense” on the negotiations, Lucho said: “I don’t know what Oscar Grau has said because as you already know I don’t watch any TV or read any news and I don’t know anything about numbers just football, but everything about Messi is crystal clear. Name me a match where Messi hasn’t been decisive. Messi must stay here for many years and people should continue to enjoy him”.

Finally, Luis Enrique said that he “likes the cup as it is, but I’d like it even more with single legs and no seeds. It would be more attractive. It would make it a touch more spectacular."

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