Created on 12-05-2015 at 09:00 AM
No, it isn't over yet, stressed Luis Enrique. In his long career as a pro the 45-year-old has seen too much to believe that – the former midfielder played more than 360 matches for Real Madrid and Barcelona before coaching AS Roma, Celta Vigo and now Barça themselves. Even with his team entering the second leg of the Champions League semi-final with a 3-0 lead from the home game, the Catalans' coach is doing everything he can to dampen any premature enthusiasm.
“We can't afford to be too relaxed,” warned Enrique before his team’s final training session at the Allianz Arena on Monday evening. The match should not be taken lightly just because of the three-goal lead, and FC Bayern made up a two-goal deficit against Porto in the quarter-final, the coach pointed out. “They can cause us problems with their team play, they did that in Barcelona too,” Enrique noted. The Reds matched their opponents in the first leg in Camp Nou for a long time, until the first goal was scored.
No parked bus
FCB coach Pep Guardiola’s former team-mate expects Bayern to play offensively to maintain their slender chance of reaching the final. “They will attack with everything they have, I have no doubt,” said Enrique. But the Spanish champions-elect have no intention of parking the bus or resting on their laurels. “We will do the same,” Enrique confidently signalled. “We'll see two teams trying to win the game from the beginning.”
Defender Javier Mascherano also warned against sitting on the lead. “It would be a huge mistake just to pull men back and defend. We have to play as we always do if we don't want to jeopardise our target. We’ve played to win all season long, that's the philosophy of FC Barcelona. We'll do it on Tuesday too,” the Argentinian said. “It's 90 minutes to the final and we'll fight to the last minute.”
‘We must be perfect’
Just like his coach, Mascherano expects “hungry” Bavarians who want to score “an early goal. But we're prepared and we’ll do everything possible to fight them.” The midfield enforcer recalled the semi-final in Bayern’s treble-winning season when the Catalans were thumped 4-0. “We know how this team plays at home, we saw it two years ago. FC Bayern will give us a hard fight. To go to Berlin we must be perfect,” stressed Mascherano.
The Catalans' confidence is boosted by the “fantastic lead” (Mascherano) and by the “good run” (Enrique) that Barca bring with them. Blaugrana have won 13 of their last 14 away matches – and have prevailed in their last nine Champions League clashes. “It would be a real asset if we gained the lead. But we know Bayern have the quality to score,” said Luis Enrique: “It will be a very attractive match because both teams want to win.”