'I represent the Barcelona way': PSG coach Enrique

AFP , Tuesday 9 Apr 2024

Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique has added spice to Wednesday's huge Champions League clash against Barcelona by insisting he represents more closely the values of the Catalan club than his opposite number Xavi Hernandez.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique speaking to reporters on Tuesday (AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique speaking to reporters on Tuesday (AFP)


"I do, without doubt," Luis Enrique said when asked at a press conference on Tuesday, on the eve of the quarter-final first leg in the French capital.

"Just look at all the stats and the trophies won, and without any doubt I represent the Barca way better, although others may have different opinions."

Luis Enrique, 53, spent the last eight years of his playing career at Barcelona, notably starring under Bobby Robson in the team that beat PSG in the 1997 Cup Winners' Cup final and winning two La Liga titles under Louis van Gaal.

He later coached Barca from 2014 to 2017, leading them to Champions League glory in his first campaign and overseeing two Spanish title triumphs.

Xavi played under Luis Enrique in that side. The pair were earlier teammates at the Camp Nou.

Now 44, Xavi played over 500 games for Barca and returned as coach in late 2021. He led Barca to the Spanish title last season, but recently announced he would leave the club at the end of this campaign.

"I have to say that I don't know Xavi at all as a coach, only as a teammate and as a player because I worked with him," added Luis Enrique, who took over at PSG ahead of this season.

"I know Barca very well and I know their players but I don't know if that is an advantage or not.

"Emotionally this means a lot to me because of my experiences there."

Luis Enrique was the coach of Barcelona in the notorious Champions League last-16 tie between the clubs in 2017, when the Catalans lost 4-0 in the first leg in Paris before recovering to win 6-1 in the return.

He admitted the tie was special for him given his past loyalties, but pointed out he had had no issues coming up against his boyhood club Sporting Gijon as a player.

"I also played against Sporting and scored goals for Barcelona," he said.

"At the end of the day, I am a professional. Of course, I like Barcelona but I am pleased to be here at PSG and I must think about my job and my team. I think I'm capable of bringing trophies to this club."

PSG will be without former Real Madrid right-back Achraf Hakimi who is suspended for Wednesday's first leg.

The second leg will be played in Barcelona next Tuesday, April 16, with the winners advancing to a semi-final against Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmund.

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