Barcelona's Luis Enrique hails Lionel Messi's return as 'perfect' preparation for Manchester City
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique hailed Lionel Messi's goalscoring return in a 4-0 rout of Deportivo la Coruna as the perfect preparation for the side's Champions League showdown with former coach Pep Guardiola's Manchester City on Wednesday
Barcelona: Barcelona boss Luis Enrique hailed Lionel Messi's goalscoring return in a 4-0 rout of Deportivo la Coruna as the perfect preparation for the side's Champions League showdown with former coach Pep Guardiola's Manchester City on Wednesday.
Messi netted with just his third touch after nearly a month out with a groin injury having come on just before the hour mark with Barca already 3-0 in front.
"It is the perfect way to go into the game against City on Wednesday for the result and for the way in which we got the result in a tricky week for us with the majority of the players away with their national teams," said Enrique. "We have Leo back and it took him no time to be back in top form."
By contrast, City will travel to the Camp Nou without a win in three games as Guardiola's men saw two penalties saved by Maarten Stekelenburg in a 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday.
Barca have had the better of City in the Champions League, winning all four clashes between the sides in the last-16 in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons.
However, Enrique insists City will be a new and improved threat on the European stage under his former teammate Guardiola. "It is a great way to prepare for a very attractive game for us against an opponent that is continuously improving, and will continue to do so based on what we have seen so far and because of the coach they have," he said.
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Another late victory for Atletico means they pull seven points clear of second-placed Real Madrid and 10 ahead of third-placed Barcelona, with another game in hand over both still to come.
Atletico will request Trippier's suspension is again put on hold while the appeal is being heard, raising the possibility of the defender again returning to action.
Messi is the club's leading scorer this season with 14 goals in all competitions, his return to form of late coinciding with Barca's nine-game unbeaten run after a poor start under Koeman.