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Luis Enrique seeks swift Barca bounceback


Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Luis Enrique expects the Spanish champions to suffer no after-effects from their shock La Liga defeat to Alaves when Celtic make their Champions League return at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Enrique was in the firing line after leaving Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on the bench among seven changes as Barca’s 100 percent start to the campaign was ended in stunning fashion by Alaves’ first La Liga win in a decade with a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

“I would like to never lose,” Enrique said on Monday.

“This team has had two years (of success) beyond any doubt, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lose.

“We will try to change that, but we are not interested in the past.

“The team has reacted well. They are obviously annoyed because we don’t like and are not accustomed to losing at home.

“We have the shortest turnaround you can have between games. The players are rested and desperate to compete and play again in the Camp Nou in a competition that excites us.”

Barca beat Celtic as recently as July 3-1 in a pre-season friendly in Dublin.

However, Enrique expects a very different clash with Champions League points at stake in a tough group also containing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach.

“It helps to have played them in pre-season, but in terms of intensity and fighting for the three points there is a huge difference,” added Enrique.

And he lauded the impact made by former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers in his short time in charge at Celtic in leading the Scottish champions back into the Champions League for the first time in three years.

Celtic also thrashed old rivals Rangers 5-1 on Saturday in the first league meeting between the Glasgow giants for four years.

“He loves good football, he is a coach that likes to play on the front foot, to take the game to the opposition and you can see that already in his short time at Celtic.

“They have made good signings and have players that will cause us problems. I Like Rodgers as a coach and his idea of how to play football.”

Barca will be back close to full strength with the star trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar set to start together for the first time since the Copa del Rey final in May.

Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and Andres Iniesta are also set to return from the side that started against Alaves.

Enrique’s only injury doubt comes in goal. Dutch stopper Jasper Cillessen made his debut on Saturday, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen trained fully on Monday and could make an earlier than expected return from a hamstring injury.

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