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Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique responds to comparison with Barcelona’s Xavi – ‘Without doubt, it’s me’

Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has told the press that he represents the mythical Barcelona style of football better than their current manager Xavi Hernandez. The pair face off on Wednesday night at the Parc des Princes, as Paris Saint-Germain look to take an advantage to Catalonia next week.

The Asturian was asked whether he or Xavi better represented the style of football that has characterised Barcelona for much of the last two decades, to which he could not have given a more direct response...READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶

“Look at the statistics, in possession, in high pressure, in data, in titles. Without a doubt, me. Our goal is to be better than Barca in offensive concepts. It has happened to me in 99% of the games I have played. These are data points. It is not subjective.”

He also rejected the notion that PSG were facing an understrength Barcelona, with PSG strong favourites in France.

“You cannot think that it is a weak Barca, they have a good dynamic in attack, with a good streak, with ‘top’ players and an accumulated experience of having won five European Cups,” he explained to MD.

He also addressed the pressure of the tie, something that has gotten to PSG in the past, most famously of course against Lucho’s Barcelona in 2017, during a 6-1 comeback.

In the group stage I saw an excess of responsibility and now I see a lot of enthusiasm and excessive ambition to play against a great Barca team wanting to get through the tie. You shouldn’t put too much pressure on a team that hasn’t won the Champions League. We have not had thae pleasure of that trophy as a club. That doesn’t mean we can’t win the Champions League.”

After noting that he would rather be the underdog than the favourite, Luis Enrique neglected to answer what Xavi’s qualities were as a coach.

I don’t know Xavi as a coach at all. I haven’t been lucky enough to have him coach me. I know Xavi as a teammate, Xavi as a player, and I know the club and many of its players very well. I don’t see that it can be an advantage or a disadvantage. With the experience I have, I think I can face the game despite it being very emotional.”

During his time as manager of Barcelona, part of the debate was whether Luis Enrique was staying true to the style of play lauded at Camp Nou, some claiming that his football was too vertical, in an era not so far removed from the great Pep Guardiola era. Xavi has also been criticised for failing to implement a similarly attractive style of play during his time, which he has claimed he does not have the resources for.

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Kylian Walterlin

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