Barcelona boss Luis Enrique hinted he made a mistake in bringing on Arda Turan against Real Madrid in the Clasico as he “came on at the worst time”.
Speaking at a Press conference ahead of Barca’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Enrique was heavily pressed on his decision to replace Ivan Rakitic with Arda in the 2-1 defeat, but he insisted he had “blind faith” in his players.
“[Past meetings] serve as a reference because there’s no better example to analyse your opponents than when they play against you, and we’ve already had a few encounters,” the Coach began.
“We, the professionals, are much calmer than you [journalists], who are exaggerating your criticism and praise.
“At the moment, we’re the best team in the League. I wouldn’t change our position with any other team.
“We played very well for 60 minutes. After 1-1, there was some imprecision and we must take into account that our opponents played almost as well as us.
“I’m pleased with what I saw, but it’s easy to identify errors when it comes to positioning or decision making. I have blind faith in my players.
“I watch every training sessions and have a totally-reliable squad. We’ll compete to the fullest.
“I don’t know whether we’ll win, but the team have the ability to still be the team we’ve seen throughout these months.
“The fans know that, in the Champions League, their support is vital. No doubt does their attendance make us stronger.
“Atletico are a team of the highest level, therefore they’re rivals of Barcelona and Madrid, despite not having the same economic possibilities.
“[Arda] came on at the worst time of the match, but I’m still delighted with him. He gives us great quality and doesn’t lose the ball.
“The objective is to win, and if we don’t concede then even better. The second leg will be very difficult.
“I see the ‘MSN’, like everyone else, in perfect condition. For a little while, we remembered what it was like to lose, but we all hope [the defeat] serves as a stimulus for us to win again.
“Athletic can dominate in several ways. They can sit back or press high, plus they’re a team who give a good level for 90 minutes. They’re very complete.
“Barca’s full-backs are players who began their careers in more advanced positions. That means we’re a team with an attacking mentality.
“[On Arda], it’s true that not all players adapt at the same rate, but Arda already knows how things work here. He’s not a cause for any doubt in that regard.
“I wish and hope all my players show their [true] levels because they’re going to need to in this final stretch of the season.
“I make changes based on what I think about the team. That doesn’t mean a lack of quality, but they’re based on what I see for the good of the team.
“If we conquer [Europe] then it’s because of the work of everyone. If we don’t then it’s the fault of many, not just one, two or three people.
“Focus on the result [against Madrid] seems very unfair. We accept everything,
“Throughout the season, all teams pick up injuries. [Atleti had injuries to Diego] Godin, [Jose Maria] Gimenez…
“I think Godin’s fit, but the important thing is meeting challenges as a team, regardless of the players who can’t play.”