Stuttering Barcelona calm before Ajax clash, coach says
Barcelona are calm heading into Wednesday`s Champions League Group F game at Ajax Amsterdam despite consecutive defeats in La Liga, according to coach Luis Enrique.
Amsterdam: Barcelona are calm heading into Wednesday`s Champions League Group F game at Ajax Amsterdam despite consecutive defeats in La Liga, according to coach Luis Enrique.
Alarm bells are ringing at the Catalan club after they followed up a 3-1 defeat at Real Madrid in the `Clasico` with a poor display in a 1-0 defeat at home to Celta Vigo at the weekend.
A win at Ajax could put Barca through to the last 16 of Europe`s elite club competition if the other result goes their way and Luis Enrique said it was positive Barca`s next game had come along so soon as they can use it to help get their season back on track.
"The team seem very calm to me, despite the last match when strange things happened," the former Spain midfielder told a news conference on Tuesday.
"What concerns me is that the team improves and until that becomes impossible I will remain optimistic," he added.
"We are in a logical and normal situation and at this club (Barca) there is an urgent need to win every game. It is an attractive and powerful goal."
Barca are second in the group on six points, one behind Paris St Germain, who beat them 3-2 in the French capital at the end of September. Ajax are third on two points with APOEL bottom with one.
Barcelona will go through if they win and APOEL fail to beat PSG, while Ajax need at least a point to retain any real hope of qualifying and could be eliminated if they lose.
Wednesday`s game marks a return to Ajax for Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, who made his official Barca debut in the `Clasico` after a four-month ban for biting but has yet to open his account with his new club.
Suarez made 110 appearances for Ajax in the Dutch top flight between 2007 and 2011, scoring 81 goals, and he played 11 times for them in the Champions League, including qualifiers, and netted five times.
"Everyone knows the affection I have for them (Ajax)," Suarez, who moved on to Liverpool before joining Barca, told Tuesday`s news conference.
"I would love to get my first goal but out of respect for this city I would not celebrate it," he added.
Speaking at an earlier news conference, Ajax coach Frank de Boer, who played with Luis Enrique at Barca from 1999 to 2003, said he and his players respected the La Liga side but did not "fear" them.
Barca beat Ajax 3-1 at the Nou Camp last month, with goals from Lionel Messi, Neymar and Sandro.
"I want to see confidence from my team tomorrow," De Boer said.
"The most important ting is that we keep playing as a team and someone is always close to Messi.
"They shouldn`t be afraid to play against Messi, Suarez or Neymar."