Monday August 25 2014
Enrique: Messi touched by magic

Luis Enrique has paid tribute to Lionel Messi after his two goals helped Barcelona to a League-opening win over Elche.

Messi scored either side of a debut effort from Munir El Haddadi as Enrique’s time as the Catalans’ Coach got off to a successful start.

Speaking to reporters after the match, Enrique suggested that Messi is so talented, if he wanted to be the best defender in the world, he would be.

“He’s the best player in the world if he wants to defend,” Marca reports the Coach as saying.

“Those who see it every day see unlikely things. He’ll be the best in the world whatever he wants to do, giving assists, scoring, pressing.

“He’s been touched by a magic wand for many years.”

Enrique also reflected on the contribution of Munir, the 18-year-old playing his first competitive game for Barca, and the game as a whole.

“He’s burned in at a rapid pace,” the Coach said of the teenager.

“He gives us many options, scored a goal, and we have competition.

“I’m more than delighted. The game had everything. Elche at the beginning had much to offer. Gradually we created chances.

“The game has been complicated by the expulsion [of Javier Mascherano]. The team has understood and with Leo in grace has won.”

Enrique was asked about the status of Xavi Hernandez, an unused substitute as Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets were used in midfield.

Sergi Roberto later replaced Iniesta but Enrique insisted it isn’t a sign of the captain’s diminished role, merely the numbers game working against him.

“I have a problem that all Coaches do and it’s that they can only play 11,” he added.

“Xavi and those who were unable to be involved will have an important role. I can only play 14 per game.

“I am delighted with Xavi and he wasn’t in the best condition for this match.”

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