Luis Enrique has enjoyed a fine start to his time as coach of Barcelona but he is already bracing himself for criticism when his side finally slip up.
The Catalans have won five and drawn one of their opening six matches in La Liga, all without conceding, and also beat Apoel Nicosia of Cyprus 1-0 in their opening Champions League Group F game two weeks ago.
But Tuesday’s meeting with Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital will be his biggest test since being appointed in the summer and the Barca coach knows that the intense media scrutiny at the club means criticism is inevitable if and when they come unstuck.
“The defenders that we have are all very good and are all capable of playing,” he said when questioned about his side’s record of clean sheets despite constant changes in personnel at the back.
“As soon as we even concede a goal it will be because of me rotating the squad.
“That’s football. I know where I am and what job I am in but I will keep doing what I consider to be the fairest thing and the best thing for my team.”
The German Marc-Andre ter Stegen could again start a Champions League game in goal in place of Claudio Bravo, who has been the first-choice keeper in La Liga, while Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba are set to return to the defence after sitting out Saturday’s 6-0 defeat of Granada.
Barcelona are looking to end PSG’s 29-game unbeaten run at home in Europe at the same venue where they drew 2-2 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie in 2012/13 before progressing on away goals, when the late Tito Vilanova was in charge.
“I can barely remember two seasons ago but I would have seen the match,” said the current coach.
“What I expect from PSG is that they are a team who will compete with us and try to take us on.
“There is no doubt that they are capable of that. They have the quality. They are one of the contenders to win the Champions League.”
But Luis Enrique, who played alongside Paris coach Laurent Blanc at Barca under Bobby Robson back in the 1996/97 campaign, insisted that the loss of Zlatan Ibrahimovic does not change anything from his viewpoint.
“It doesn’t change anything for us whether Zlatan plays or not. His absence is a big one, it would be for any team, but they remain a fearsome, dangerous opponent.”
Swedish striker Ibrahimovic has been ruled out of the match against his former club after failing to respond sufficiently to treatment on the heel problem that his kept him out of his side’s last two matches.
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