Luis Enrique praises Luis Suarez leadership at Barcelona
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has praised the "leadership" of his striker Luis Suarez -- who has scored the winners in both games since Blaugrana talisman Lionel Messi was injured last week.
Suarez scored twice last weekend as Barca beat Las Palmas 2-1 in La Liga at the Camp Nou -- a game played in a shocked atmosphere after Messi went off early with a knee injury which is set to sideline the Argentina international until late November.
Former Liverpool player Suarez then scored a superb winning goal late in Tuesday's Champions League group win at home to Bayer Leverkusen, as Barca completed a turnaround to win 2-1 after trailing 1-0 for a long time.
The Blaugrana coach told a news conference that Suarez, who is still banned from international football for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, was making a vital contribution to Barca's cause.
"[Suarez] is a vital player for us, a key player, for his play, for his leadership," Luis Enrique said. "If he does not play for Uruguay for a little while more, all the better for us."
For Saturday's La Liga game at Sevilla, Barca are also missing midfielder Andres Iniesta, who picked up a hamstring problem against Bayer, as well as longer-term absentees Rafinha and Thomas Vermaelen.
Luis Enrique admitted his team had suffered heavily during a difficult run of games, however he was confident they could come through positively.
"We go into the game in a negative situation," he said. "Missing many players but these things happen, and all teams past through moments like this. It is part of football. I expect a difficult game, the last game in a run of seven games in 21 days with tiredness building up. It will be difficult, given the opponent, and the situation we are in. [But] I do not hide behind injuries or suspensions. I have blind faith in my team."
Sevilla rattled Barcelona in the preseason European Supercup before the Catalan side took the trophy in extra time -- but Unai Emery's side have also been hit heavily by injuries, have won just one of their six La Liga games to date, and were beaten 2-0 at Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday evening.
"Knowing their squad, and their coach, I am surprised how they have started," Luis Enrique said. "It reinforces the theory that winning is difficult. We have seen in other years that teams have played in the Champions League and have dropped off. This will not happen to Sevilla, but they do have plenty of problems."
Last year's La Liga first choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has recovered from injury and is ready to challenge under pressure Marc Andre ter Stegen for a starting spot.
"[Bravo] has already trained with the team," Luis Enrique said. "He is already back with us. He has worked with the physios and recovery specialists. Now it is just down to a technical decision."