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Luis Enrique's Modesty Hides Coach's Key Role in Barcelona Success Story

Published by Bleacher Report on Thu, 18 Aug 2016

Luis Enrique is not good to the media. Often terse and unfriendly in press conferences, frequently taking umbrage at certain lines of questioning, rarely offering the type of soundbites he knows everybody is hoping for.That means sometimes he doesn't get the credit he deserves. And he doesn't care one iota. "If you don't like my style, I don't give a damn," he said in April, about a row with journalist Victor Malo, whom he made fun of because of his last name, which means bad in English.As Luis Enrique demonstrated on Wednesday night after Barcelona beat Sevilla 3-0, 5-0 on aggregate, to win the Spanish Super Cup for the 12th time, he doesn't want to be in the spotlight.Asked about his barely believable record of eight trophy wins from 10 competitions entered, the coach turned the focus on to his men. In his post-match press conference, the Barcelona boss said:I am very fortunate to have a group of unique players, who don't stop surprising me. They are [all] different and the good thing is that the new players have a lot of enthusiasm and will try and copy what those who have been here for years have been doing. It's a true honour and a pleasure.And that was it. The glory is for the likes of Lionel Messi, who set up one of Arda Turan's two goals, scored Barcelona's third and ran the show like a puppet-master.Luis Enrique reserved the rest of his time to explain how Barcelona shouldn't even have needed to play the Super Cup this year."When there's one winner of the league and the cup, there's no sense in playing the Super Cup. I say that now we've won," he explained. "It's clear that there's "business" [to cater for], but for me it doesn't make sense."In that quote there is a little hint of bitterness. "I say that now we've won," is likely a reference to last season, when Barcelona won the treble but still played the Spanish Super Cup against Athletic Club Bilbao, going down 4-0 in the first leg and then drawing 1-1 at home. He was likely holding that in for an entire year.It was an embarrassing defeat, but Luis Enrique is right when he suggests that Barcelona didn't need to play Athletic, having already beaten them in the Copa del Rey final.Many of the Camp Nou's regulars stayed away from the Super Cup, perhaps not happy with the 11 p.m. kick-off time on a midweek night, but that was a mistake. This was the first real glimpse of what Luis Enrique's Barcelona 3.0 can do.There was a curious atmosphere in the stadium. The fans complained less than usual when things didnt go Barcelonas way and were overexcited when the team attacked. And whenever Messi got close to the edge of the pitch or went toward one of the corners, cameras flashed incessantly.The tourists got what they came for, with Messi putting in a dominant display. Without Luis Suarez, who was on the bench, and Neymar, who is at the Olympic Games, he was even more of a key figure than he usually is.One of Luis Enriques greatest achievements is helping create this new Messi. The Messi he received when taking over from Gerardo Martino was still a great player, but he had lost some of what makes him the finest footballer who ever lived.The Asturian, with some help from Messi himself who decided to switch positions with Suarez in a game against Ajax, decided to employ the Argentinian on the right, and thats where hes stayed.Messi playing as a right-winger, although he ends up pulling the strings from a near-centre midfield role, has had such impressive results that Argentina are using him there as well.Another great skill of Luis Enriques is how flexible he is. When he started at Barcelona he was pesadoheavyon the players, but he soon realised, as things came to a head in January 2015, that he had to change.He gave the forwards more freedom, allowing them to interact on the pitch as they wished without being chained to any set structure, and it paid dividends, with Messi, Neymar and Suarez leading Barcelona to new heights.The coach also made it clear that he wanted reinforcements this summer, and apart from the fourth striker Barcelona are still hoping for, they have signed well.Lucas Digne, Samuel Umtiti, Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes are the four new arrivals and all of them played against Sevilla.Denis Suarez had a poor game but generally has shown he has a lot of quality in his previous appearances this summer, while the other three played well."Already in preseason you can see how important it is to have a deep squad," said Sergio Busquets, per Sport."We have been left without four teammates due to injury going into La Liga and its good to have players available in each position. The players that have arrived are really good and I hope they adapt well.The coach has noted it on various occasions, tooBarcelona have the strongest squad in his tenure and of the previous few years, too. Perhaps ever.Even Arda is starting to play well. And if he can continue the form he has shown in the previous couple of matches, he could be the most important signing of the summer.Luis Enrique has backed the Turk on every occasion, even while others at the club wanted to sell him after a poor first year. And it is starting to pay off.He took both goals well against Sevilla, the first a cool finish after Messi slipped him in, the second a bombastic strike from distance, which soared over Sergio Rico and slammed into the back of the net.Barcelona have geared up for the new season in the best way possible by lifting the Spanish Super Cup.The pre-season friendlies went to plan, bar one against Liverpool, but even that heavy defeat at Wembley Stadium was a wake-up call that should prevent the team from playing so slackly in future.If there is a negative note, it is the injuries Barcelona have picked up in the Super Cup. Andres Iniesta and Jeremy Mathieu suffered knee and hamstring problems, respectively, in the first leg, before Javier Mascherano departed with a hamstring strain of his own in the second game. He will miss a week, per Sport.But even that just opens the doors to others. Umtiti, for example, is set to start with Gerard Pique against Real Betis. Iniesta will be replaced by Denis Suarez or Gomes.Luis Enrique has created a fine squad and a fine environment at Barcelona, and it is being directed in the best possible fashion by the coach. Just dont try to tell him that.All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless otherwise specified
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