Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has sympathised with Luis Suarez after accusing Atletico Madrid of hypocrisy. “Defenders stick to him, yet nothing happens…”
Diego Simeone and Filipe Luis hinted after Atleti’s 2-1 defeat to Barca in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday that Suarez should have been sent off for his apparent kick-out at Juanfran, but Enrique felt the striker’s position on the pitch played against him.
“Since La Real returned to La Primera, the club have never won there, with different Coaches, different players,” he said ahead of the Catalans’ trip to Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday.
“It’s something we’ve reflected on quietly. We have to get down to the matter. There’s only one thing for sure – it won’t be easy.
“Even if we win, the League will not be decided. There will be six games left and we’re already seeing that there’s a lot of tightness.
“Eusebio has given order to La Real. He’s very smart and a very good person. La Real made a great signing.
“People still talk about ‘the Anoeta’ [referring to last season’s defeat there], but it was a defeat like the others.
“Still, it’s a very difficult trip, the most difficult in the League, according to the numbers.
“I won’t give clues to Eusebio. I don’t give information to anyone, so Eusebio won’t know who will play, but yes, I have the ability to rotate. We’ll see.
“Anoeta won’t influence Wednesday’s match at the Calderon.
“Suarez is a very smart guy. I knew [when he came] that he’d be in the public eye for anything.
“When the end of the season approaches, each person defends themselves more incisively.
“[On claims his squad are tiring], the physical preparation of a group has a lot to do with their mindset and the difficulties of their upcoming games.
“Still, we have real evidence that the team are fresher at the same point as last season. Our physical preparation isn’t a concern.
“We lose zero energy on what we can’t control. Rafinha can play on the wing, as a false nine…
“It’s a great joy to have him back. He’s equal to or better than before he was injured. He only needs minutes to get 100 percent.
“I speak with Suarez every day. The defenders stick to him, yet nothing happens, but if a striker does that then it’s considered worse.
“Suarez is doing very well, but he can always improve, like everyone else. Still, he has to keep using his body, that’s what he’s been doing since he arrived.
“We’re not hindered at all [by Suarez’s absence]. I have an incredible squad and everyone’s focused.
“I don’t think what happens at Anoeta is essential in light of the game at the Calderon.
“[Suarez] has personality and I love it. There’s no-one like him. He’s a vital player for us.
“Munir [El Haddadi] has matured at all levels this season. At first, he found it harder to play well, like Sandro [Ramirez], but he’s evolved, Munir especially.
“He’s taken every opportunity he’s had lately very well. He’s very well equipped, both physically and technically.
“The players know we can’t relax. We have to be intense, competitive and superior in ball possession and overcome [our rivals’] pressure.”