Uefa Champions League: Barcelona ‘will continue being strong’ without Lionel Messi at Gladbach

Barcelona travel to Germany for their second Uefa Champions League group match on Wednesday without their best player.
In the absence of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, left, and Neymar, right, have kept Barcelona firing. Eloy Alonso / Reuters
In the absence of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, left, and Neymar, right, have kept Barcelona firing. Eloy Alonso / Reuters

Barcelona will travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach for their Uefa Champions League match on Wednesday without Lionel Messi but the Spanish side have enough options and firepower to plug the gap left by the Argentine, manager Luis Enrique said.

Messi, 29, has been sidelined for three weeks with a groin injury but Barca were unaffected by their best player’s absence on Saturday, firing five goals past Sporting Gijón in a show of force ahead of their second Group C match.

Their opening game in Europe was even more impressive as Barca crushed Celtic 7-0 to move top of the standings on goal difference ahead of Manchester City, led by their former manager Pep Guardiola.

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Barcelona have scored 18 goals in four games since losing 2-1 at home to Alaves on September 10, with Neymar and Luis Suarez in fine form.

“I have different kinds of players and that gives me a lot of options,” Enrique said. “Depending on who we are playing and the players I have available, I will pick the ones that I think are right for the situation.

“To lose Messi means that football loses. With Messi we are stronger, but we will continue being strong.”

Enrique rested several players on Saturday, including Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano.

For Barca goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen it will be an emotional return to the club he left in 2014.

“I had a fantastic time there and played for the club my entire career apart for the last two years,” Ter Stegen said.

“Borussia are my old love and that will remain so but I identify with Barca 100 per cent and on the pitch there is only one club for me.”

They will need that focus if they are to get maximum points in Germany and snap Gladbach’s 11-match winning streak at home in all competitions following their 2-0 victory over Ingolstadt on Saturday.

Manager Andre Schubert will have Raffael back, the Brazilian having recovered from an adductor injury.

Fit-again creative midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud is also expected to be in the squad after playing against Ingolstadt, as Gladbach look to bounce back from their opening 4-0 defeat at City.

“We are happy to be playing against one of the world’s best teams,” defender Oscar Wendt said. “And it is even better that they are coming to us on Wednesday.”

“But we are no fans of Barcelona and do not want to play a supporting role on the night. We want to give it all we have and make something special out of it.”

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Published: September 27, 2016 04:00 AM

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