‘Barca the team to beat in 15-16’

Luis Enrique believes Barcelona “are the team to beat in Europe” this season in a rallying cry ahead of Friday’s Supercopa first leg against Athletic Bilbao.

La Blaugrana swept all before them last term to win an historic second treble, and the Coach has challenged his troops to maintain their hegemony on all fronts in 2015-16, starting with a second Super Cup over the next three days.

“This season has begun with attractive objectives such as the Super Cups, and they help us to be competitive from the start,” he said at a Press conference.

“We have courage and hope to be better than Athletic [over both legs]. The fact we had such a good season last time out means we now have objectives like the Supercopa.

“Planning for this season has been different [to the last one] because we’re already vying for trophies.

“In La Liga, we must start strong from the offset. It’s a competition that requires consistency. I’d say we’re the team to beat in Europe.

“Playing in Super Cups before the League will determine [how you start the season], but we must find a way to [successfully] tackle all our commitments.

“We’re in so many competitions that it forces us to be at our best and makes us the team to beat in Europe.

“In order to win trophies, you must do things right in both attack and defence.

“In that respect, I’m happy because we were superior to Sevilla. I hope for an uncomfortable match at San Mames.

“[On fatigue], it is what it is and we’re not even thinking about it.

“We’ll try to make the best of the situation. We hope that we suffer as little as possible.

“We know Athletic perfectly well, so [them man-marking Lionel Messi] could be an option.

“We know they press well and that the match will start in an uncomfortable manner, but [how they will deal with Messi] is more of a question for [Athletic boss Ernesto] Valverde than me.

“We must work on our [defensive] errors. The good thing is that we recognise those errors.

“Barca are motivated by any opponents. [Athletic] are one who always demand more of you.

“I’ll start an XI that will be competitive and try to get a good result for the return leg. [My XI] will only be determined by physical condition.

“Beyond [the match, the sextuple] is an objective that we all have in mind.

“[Before that], we must look at winning a fifth trophy. The match against Athletic is enough motivation and it’s our primary objective.”

Tags Luis Enrique Supercopa Supercopa de Espana