Barca's Luis Enrique bemoans long haul to play ball

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique would rather the team did not have to fly off on long-distance tours before the regular season but understands they are important for the club`s marketing strategy.

Reuters| Last Updated: Jul 20, 2015, 16:37 PM IST
Barca's Luis Enrique bemoans long haul to play ball

Los Angeles: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique would rather the team did not have to fly off on long-distance tours before the regular season but understands they are important for the club`s marketing strategy.

Luis Enrique and his squad, missing resting Copa America participants like forwards Lionel Messi and Neymar, arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday and play their opening International Champions Cup game against MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy in Pasadena on Tuesday.

"Honestly I prefer not to go on tours," Luis Enrique told a news conference at the team`s hotel.

"It`s nice to come but there are aspects that are uncomfortable, for example the jet lag," the former Barca and Spain midfielder added.

"But the club has commitments and the competition is interesting. You could do the same in Europe but we have to accept it."

After taking on the LA Galaxy, the Spanish and European champions meet English Premier League sides Manchester United in Santa Clara on Saturday and Chelsea in Landover on July 28.

They then return to Europe to play Serie A club Fiorentina in Florence on Aug. 2.

Luis Enrique, who led Barca to a treble of Champions League and Spanish league and Cup titles in his debut season, defended Barca`s decision to allow the likes of Messi and Neymar to miss the tour, despite pressure from sponsors.

"The players need holidays and we are not going to change that for commitments like a tour," he said.

"Everyone wants to see the top players but they need to rest, which is vital.

"It`s normal that they want to get close to Messi, (Javier)

Mascherano, Neymar, (Dani) Alves, (Claudio) Bravo... but rest takes priority."

Barca`s first official match of the 2015-16 season is the European Super Cup against Europa League winners and La Liga rivals Sevilla on Aug. 11.

They then play Athletic Bilbao over two legs for the Spanish Super Cup before they get their bid for a sixth La Liga title in eight years underway against the Basque club on the weekend of Aug. 22-23.