Barcelona has had several iconic managers over the years from Johann Cruyff to Frank Rijkaard, from Louis van Gaal to Pep Guardiola. However, few left with the legacy that Luis Enrique boasted. Arriving in 2014, Lucho took over a star-studded squad in transition, and led them to treble supremacy in his first season in charge of the club.
Enrique’s primary task was never tactics, but getting the right balance between the mammoth egos in the dressing room which had players like Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez, and of course Lionel Messi. The Argentine was the primary peg in his team, like he has been over the years, and won the Ballon d’Or for the 2014/15 season as well.
Five season since that, Messi still fondly remembers the Spaniard, hailing him alongside Pep Guardiola. That companionship and mutual respect is visible between the legendary duo after all these years, as well.
Yesterday, as Barcelona met Real Sociedad in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals, Luis Enrique was in attendance, potentially as a chance to scout players for the National Team. Luckily, Lionel Messi was also in the stands, having been ruled out from the game owing to an injury. Cules witnessed a heart-warming moment as the two met each other, sharing a handshake.
Barça were able to wriggle through the semis on penalties owing to a monsterclass from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who made six saves during the games, and two in the penalty shoot-out. Messi’s involvement in the final is still in the air, depending on his recovery, but fans would love to witness a genius from the best in the world if and when Real Madrid reach the final as well.
Official: Barcelona starting XI to face Rayo Vallecano — Leo Messi starts
Barcelona have announced the starting XI that will take on Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey round of 16. The biggest news? Lionel Messi is back! The captain starts through the centre, with Antoine Griezmann and Fransisco Trincao rounding the front three off from the left and right respectively.
Behind them, Riqui Puig gets his second start of the season on the back of his first goal for Barcelona. He is joined by Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets in the midfield triumvirate.
Neto is given the responsibility to handle the gloves for this encounter, and screening him are Ronald Araujo and Clement Lenglet in the heart of the defence. Oscar Mingueza and Junior Firpo will give the width from the backline, finishing off the XI in the Kings’ Cup.
Confirmed XI: Neto; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Firpo; de Jong, Busquets, Puig; Trincao, Messi, Griezmann
Lionel Messi and Riqui Puig seemed to connect to each other last season starting together against Atletico Madrid and Deportivo Alaves, and tonight will be the first time they play together extensively after a long time. Either way, any opportunity to watch Messi is a treat!