BARCELONA V CELTIC
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers monday labelled Barcelona’s Luis Suarez as the best striker in the world ahead of the Scottish champions’ daunting task of stopping him, Lionel Messi and Neymar in their Champions League opener tonight.
Rodgers worked with Suarez for two years at Liverpool as the Uruguayan’s 31 goals nearly carried the English side to their first Premier League title in for 24 years in 2014.
However, Rodgers admitted Suarez has gone to another level alongside Messi and Neymar in forming what the Northern Irishman described as one of the deadliest strike forces in football history.
“We respect that this is arguably the best team in the world with maybe the best front three of all-time,” Rodgers said at the Camp Nou monday.
“I know from working with Luis he used to occupy a four or five-man defence on his own, so if you put Neymar and Messi into that it is a very difficult task.
“In this moment in time Luis is the best striker in the world there is no question about that.
“I had the pleasure of working with Luis for two years. He is the best in the world. The biggest compliment you can pay him is he came to an already world class team and made them better.
“Barca now wouldn’t be the same team without Luis in the team.”
Celtic is huge underdog to progress in a group that also contains Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
However, the sides suffered contrasting fortunes at the weekend as Celtic thrashed old rivals Rangers 5-1 in the first league meeting between the two for four years, while Barca slumped to a shock 2-1 home defeat to newly-promoted Alaves.
However, Enrique expects a very different clash with Champions League points at stake.
“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 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.
“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.”