September 27, 2016 11:46:28 am
Barcelona will travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach for their Champions League match on Wednesday without Lionel Messi but the Spaniards have enough options and firepower to plug the gap left by the Argentine, coach Luis Enrique said.
Messi has been sidelined for three weeks with a groin injury but Barca were unaffected by their leader’s absence on Saturday, firing five goals past Sporting Gijon in a show of force ahead of their second Group C match.
Their opening game in Europe was even more impressive as the Spaniards crushed Celtic 7-0 to move top of the standings on goal difference ahead of Manchester City, led by their former coach Pep Guardiola.
Barcelona have scored 18 goals in four games since losing 2-1 at home to Alaves on Sept. 10, with Neymar and Luis Suarez in fine form.
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“I have different kinds of players and that gives me a lot of options,” Luis Enrique said. “Depending on who we are playing and the players I have available, I will pick the ones that I think are right for the situation. To lose Messi means that football loses. With Messi we are stronger, but we will continue being strong,” he said.
He rested several players on Saturday, including Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano. For Barca keeper Marc Andre ter Stegen it will be an emotional return to the club he left in 2014.
“I had a fantastic time there and played for the club my entire career apart for the last two years,” Ter Stegen said, “Borussia are my old love and that will remain so but I identify with Barca 100 percent and on the pitch there is only one club for me.”
They will need that focus if they are to get maximum points in Germany and snap Gladbach’s 11-match winning streak at home in all competitions following their 2-0 victory over Ingolstadt on Saturday. Coach Andre Schubert will have Raffael back, the Brazilian having recovered from an adductor injury.
Fit-again creative midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud is also expected to be in the squad after playing against Ingolstadt, as Gladbach look to bounce back from their opening 4-0 defeat at City.
“We are happy to be playing against one of the world’s best teams,” said defender Oscar Wendt. “And it is even better that they are coming to us on Wednesday. But we are no fans of Barcelona and do not want to play a supporting role on the night. We want to give it all we have and make something special out of it.”
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