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Enrique expects Barca to be tested at Gladbach


Monchengladbach (Germany) (AFP) – Luis Enrique has warned Barcelona to take nothing for granted when the Spanish giants, minus injured Lionel Messi, face Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday in the Champions League. 

“Above everything else, Gladbach inspire awe at home. They aren’t just dangerous with the ball, they also attack early and high up the pitch,” said Barca’s coach in Tuesday’s press conference.

“We’ll have to play like we always do, we’ll have to position ourselves well and deal with them quickly.”

The Barca boss was talking up the hosts’ chances at Borussia Park, but Gladbach will struggle to contain the Spaniards, even without groin-injury victim Messi.

Barcelona opened their Group C campaign a fortnight ago with a 7-0 drubbing of Celtic at the Camp Nou, while the Germans suffered a 4-0 defeat at Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Messi missed Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing away to Sporting Gijon and is due to also sit out their forthcoming Spanish league match at Celta Vigo.

In his absence, Luis Suarez and Neymar came to the fore at Gijon, who played the final 10 minutes with 10 men, as Suarez opened the scoring before Neymar netted twice in the closing stages.

Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta were all rested at Sporting and the quartet are expected to return in Germany.

With Rakitic and Iniesta returning to the midfield, Turkey international Arda Turan is likely to move forward to accompany Suarez and Neymar.

“It is important from the outset to be focused, to build confidence in our own strengths and to unsettle the opponent at the same time,” added Enrique.

“This is especially important against Gladbach, they have incredible statistics at home.”

Gladbach have won all three home games this season in Germany’s top flight and they can expect passionate support at Borussia Park.

It will be an emotional homecoming for ex-Gladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who left for Barca in 2014 after 18 years.

“Ter Stegen has improved in every respect, both in personal and footballing terms,” said Enrique.

“He speaks Spanish and even understands a little Catalan.

“He has accepted the challenge to move to Barca and face the competition.”

Ter Stegen has already lifted the Champions League title, after Barca won the 2015 final in Berlin, and the Germany goalkeeper is relishing his Gladbach return.

“It was a pleasure to spend 18 years here, but since the transfer, everything changed for me,” he said.

“Barca has been a good experience and I still have a lot of years in front of me here.

“It’s of course very special to be here and to see lots of friends again.”

Like Enrique, ter Stegen was predicting a busy night for Barca against a Gladbach team which likes to counter-attack.

“Gladbach exerts pressure very high up, we need to control the game and circulate the ball quickly,” said the 24-year-old.

“We are prepared and want to win. We know it’ll be a tough game.”

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