What They're Saying: Luis Enrique

"You can tell you didn't watch the game."

-- Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, who had to be restrained after objecting to a post-match interview with Catalan broadcaster TV3 following the 4-0 loss to Paris St. Germain. Luis Enrique took responsibility for a switch in formations to 4-2-3-1 from a 4-3-3 that proved disastrous. (BBC Sport)
38 comments about "What They're Saying: Luis Enrique".
  1. frank schoon, February 15, 2017 at 10:27 a.m.

    It is Common sense Barca lost when playing a 4231 system. Stay with the 433 that got you there throughout all these years. You can see that Barca was totally out of their rhythm, the ball wasn't passed around with fluidity for there were fewer passing options going forward, there was lack of good build up, they lost midfield control and were often out numbered at midfield. When you are an attacking team, you don't play 4231 but 433. With a 433 you have not only more defenders but also more attackers, it is that simple and the backfield has more passing options, going forwards. The spacing on the flanks between front and backline was too much, thereby not only slowing the game down but the #10 is unable to cover side to side to create the triangle. And often the team was split into 2 parts. Messi was totally useless, trying to dribble around midfield, losing the ball which created a goal for PSG. A great player doesn't make mistakes like that. That is why Cruyff in his top 11 great players didn't even pick Messi. Also notice that in the 4231 Barca lost not only the duels but also and more importantly, the secondary balls. There were no triangles for support or 3rd man off the ball runs. The wings ended up making too many runs going back on defense for Barca had no midfield control. Furthermore the goalie was forced to pass wide to either one of the center backs or outside back which caused Barcelona to be outnumber 10v7 for their whole opposite flank was out of the play.

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 16, 2017 at 12:23 p.m.

    Messi is arguably the greatest of all time and is a better player than Cruyff. There - I've said it. You know it too. He may be past his best right now but in his prime, Messi was clearly better. That said, this Barca team is probably in need a refersh.

  3. frank schoon replied, February 16, 2017 at 1 p.m.

    FPGN, Messi is a great player but he is not as technically as versatile as Cruyff...and I'll will gladly debate you on those technical aspects.

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 16, 2017 at 1:55 p.m.

    But in previous posts, you've said Messi is a "very limited player" rather than a great one. Which is it?

  5. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 8:15 a.m.

    Even if he is not as "complete" technically, what Messi can do in tight spaces around the 18 with his left foot alone is magic and makes him a better player than Cruyff (my favorite player of all time).

  6. frank schoon replied, February 17, 2017 at 10:55 a.m.

    Don, this is my point. A great player has weaknesses and there is no complete player but great players are not equal in ability and are better in certain aspects of the game than others. For example Messi does not have the brains of a Cruyff. Cruyff is more all-around player. Puskas was the greatest shooter but he lacked speed of a Cruyff. Cruyff can use both legs where as Messi can't.
    Michel Plantini ,the great midfielder once stated that there are players who are faster than me, there are those who can shoot harder than me but I can see 3moves
    ahead. So when you judge who is greater ,you have to see who is more complete, and not who scores the most goals for in soccer there is so much more that is taken into account

  7. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 11:29 a.m.

    What Messi does is more difficult and more important than what just about any other player in the game has ever done. Cruyff was great, and his understanding of the game might surpass anyone else to ever play, but he could not do what Messi can do in and around the box, and that is where his other worldly value comes. I also think that you underestimate Messi's versatility. He can play on either wing or in the attacking midfield at a level better than any other player in those positions in the world. I ALSO think that you underestimate the intelligence that Messi plays with. He doesn't command the field verbally or in the style that Cruyff did, but his role as a false 9 revolutionized the game and is the key to the most sophisticated system that the world has ever seen.

  8. frank schoon replied, February 17, 2017 at 12:30 p.m.

    Don, Messi revolutionized the game as #9? Cruyff revolutionized the game as a #9 back in the early 70's. Because of his size, he would not last as a standard center forward, as a result he dropped back leaving a space for another player to run into. Messi began playing right wing but he is not wing because he can't even cross the ball with his right ,as a matter of fact he is lousy with his right. They positioned him at the right flank but he is no wing and for he doesn't have the speed with his short legs to outrun a defender and for that is not his game. He is not a midfielder although he posts himself at times there not because he is a midfielder but he is there for 2 reasons. One, he tries to draw the center back out to come pick him up thus leaving a gap in the defense for someone to run into, Two, he comes back to create more space for himself. That is the only reason you find him at midfield but he is not a midfielder as you can quite see how he tries to dribble around midfield and loses it twice and as a result PSG scores. A smart ,good midfielder, a la Xavi, would not try to dribble the ball around midfield, WHY? do that since you're positioned 50yards from the goal. Messi lost the ball twice like that at midfield A great player don't stupid mistakes like that...he lacks the smarts for a Cruyff would never lose the ball around midfield.
    You talk about the "most sophisticated system in the world' ,Yeah and who created it ...Cruyff.... It was Cruyff creation as Guardiola so aptly puts it....

  9. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 2:25 p.m.

    Did you just say that Messi doesn't have speed to outrun defenders because of his short legs? You are clearly too emotional about this topic to discuss it rationally as this point and many other fallacies in your argument show.

  10. frank schoon replied, February 17, 2017 at 4:46 p.m.

    Don, it is only common sense , that there is a reason why he is good in small spaces for his build lends himself to be that way. A tall player with longer legs is not good in small spaces for his turns and movements as well as his first step take longer .That is why Messi does not really play wing although he is positioned there. But Messi is not build to outrun in distance with speed, that is not how he is build. Again you need to understand the basics of soccer.

  11. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 5:10 p.m.

    You lost all credibility by saying that Messi does not have good speed. His game is built on speed -- not just running speed, but dribbling. He is incredibly quick and fast with the ball -- in space and in tight spaces. His skill in this regard makes him better than just about any other player in the history of the game -- Maradonna also comes to mind. Consider his dribbling skills with his ability to combine with teammates and you get arguably the greatest player of all time. CERTAINLY a top 5 player, and MOST DEFINITELY a top 10 player to anyone who is not carrying extreme bias or other issues.

  12. frank schoon replied, February 17, 2017 at 5:52 p.m.

    Don, do you know the difference between speed and quickness. Messi has the latter. Messi operates best in the last third of the field near the opponents goal and for that you need quickness not speed which is more for distance. And since Barcelona plays positional soccer meaning letting the ball do the running instead of the player because nothing is faster than the ball. That is why Barcelona doesn't employ big tall, strong, fast midfielders but small guys who are quick with the ball for because they want the ball to do the running. It is very simple Don, but I hope now you understand the difference between speed and quickness. And at last ,you don't want Messi to try outrun distance wise because it take so much energy. That is why he also plays in the opponents third of the field for there is little space to cover.

  13. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 6:49 p.m.

    As I said, Messi is fast AND quick. Nonetheless, your lesson did nothing to defend the idiocy of putting disregarding Messi as not a top 10 player of all time. I absolutely love Cruyff, so I thought this was just going to be a fun debate of Cruyff vs. Messi. I see Messi being ahead of Cruyff, as do most peolpe. But I was interested in hearing your argument for Cruyff since he is my favorite all time player and since he is definitely an all time great. However, your statement about Messi not being in a top 10 list is lunacy that inclines me to disregard everything else that you say.

  14. frank schoon replied, February 17, 2017 at 7:09 p.m.

    Don, since I'm from the same generation as Johan and both of us having seen all the greats play, I feel like I'm in good company since he likewise doesn't believe Messi belongs in the top 10.

  15. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 9:46 p.m.

    Like I said, lunacy... haha. If you know one thing about Cruyff's personality, you should know not to take things like that too literally. He had a way of sending messages that went much deeper than the surface, and that easily could have been the case with him downplaying Messi's greatness.

  16. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 19, 2017 at 10:15 a.m.

    Look - it's a defensible (though wrong in my view) opinion to say Cruyff was better than Messi. It's absurd to say Messi isn't even top 10 all-time. Let's have your top 10 Frank. No doubt none of them played after 1980 or so.

  17. frank schoon, February 16, 2017 at 2:12 p.m.

    FPGN, Messi is a great player and he is superb in what he does, but he is a limited players, for example ,obviously he is small not known for heading the ball but dribbling, so that is already a minus. Just because he is great player doesn't mean he likewise is a great header or is the greatest shooter, or fastest on the run. Messi is known for scoring goals for if you took that away, the average would not be as appreciative of him, because than it requires more of an eye in appreciating Messi. Messi was much better when he had Xavi playing behind him, for without Xavi Messi would be less effective.
    Messi is not a great defender and there a whole lot of other aspects of the game he is not good at but that does not mean he isn't a great player.

  18. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 8:17 a.m.

    Even with his weaknesses, Messi is one of the top 1-3 players of all time. He would have to be head of Cruyff.

  19. frank schoon replied, February 17, 2017 at 11:20 a.m.

    Don, like I said before you have to look at the completeness of the great players, including, leadership qualities which all great players display but Messi doesn't have that and that is also why is not well thought of with the Argentinian National Team as compared to what he has done with Barcelona. And that is one the reasons why Messi wanted to quit playing for the Agentinian National team for he play is nothing to write home about. You have you look at the whole picture of the player. And therefore having watched all greats play , I don't even consider Messi in my top 10 or even Christian Ronaldo although they are both great players .

  20. don Lamb replied, February 17, 2017 at 11:42 a.m.

    Judging a player's leadership is a tricky proposition. You are probably completely wrong and really have no idea how the other players view him or how he actually impacts them. Cruyff was known to be moody and very demanding on the field. Some of his teammates hated playing with him, so it's hard to say that his leadership skills were impeccable. Especially given his eccentric personality, habit of smoking, and inability to stay with one team for very long. Argentina has been a shit show, and that has much more to do with why they have not been as successful as Messi's Barca. He was mad at the administration and was trying to make a point with his "retirement." Besides that, the makeup of the team is very very unbalanced, which has simply made it difficult for them to get over the hump and win big titles. Nothing Messi can do about that at all. But it's not like Cruyff ever won a World Cup. Why do you hold that against Messi, but not against Cruyff? Even with the shortcomings, one could easily argue that Messi has accomplished more with Argentina than Cruyff did with Holland.

  21. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 19, 2017 at 10:16 a.m.

    How about when Cruyff decided not to show up to the 1978 world cup? That shows he wasn't much of a leader. Plus, Holland still nearly won without him. That shows maybe he isn't as good as you say.

  22. frank schoon replied, February 19, 2017 at 3:49 p.m.

    FPGN, We are adults here, and all you try to do is to make one sentenced statements in hope to get a gotcha on someone instead of posing knowledgeable inquiries. You whole demeanor is like a little kid half the timer. I've always tried to answer anyone's question with respect. If you insist with this "gotcha" garbage, I won't answer you, but ignore you.OK
    First of all just because someone elects not to go to the '78WC, that has nothing to do with leadership qualities. First of all his family was threatened with kidnapping back in Spain, and if I'm correct there was a kidnapping. Second, Cruyff would would be 30years old and he would be in Argentina 6weeks which he physically had a tough time with for so much was demanded of him. And third Argentina had a dictator and there bad political things going on there which as a result half the team was thinking of not going to Argentina in protest. And last Cruyff had promised his wife that he wasn't going to WC'78, for that is what she wanted and that is what his brother also had stated. But what he did he continued to play for Holland to make them qualify for '78WC.

  23. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 19, 2017 at 5:03 p.m.

    So Holland went to a world cup without him and almost won. They hit the post in the last minute of normal time in the final. Maybe he wasn't as important in the national team's success as you say? In any event, I'm not arguing with you that Cruyff is an all-time great. He clearly is. My disagreement with you is your refusal to acknowledge how great Messi is.

  24. frank schoon, February 17, 2017 at 1:24 p.m.

    Don, you have no idea how much I have on Cruyff , I've every interview he ever made since the 70's and players he played with. Yes, you either love him or hate him, but one thing they all have is respect for him as a player on the field. I don't know how high you have played the game but you're statement about judging a players leadership tells me you have not played at a decent high enough level to understand this. There is a hierarchy that is quickly established among players who leads and a leader is not chosen it comes automatically through how the players on the field judge someone as a leader through his presence,character, skill, and personality and brains. Who is boss is quickly established and no matter where Cruyff played he was boss and he can back it up. Messi is just a little boy out there who is having fun and if he doesn't have a good day , you wouldn't even notice him out there like he did against PSG. What happen with Messi with Argentinian National Team is only an example why is not a leader. This would never happen to a Pele a Cruyff or Maradona..for they are real men...I can see them now crying 'oh I'm not going to play anymore for the National Team because I look so crappy"... This never happens to real leaders and great players for they ARE great. A great player and leader runs the show, Cruyff in the WC'74 was the leader on the team, and also determines who plays on field. He ran the show and there obviated problems like Messi had with administration. This would never happen with Cruyff for he determines what he wants not the administration...
    Some statement you made are so rediculous about Cruyff, his smoking , the number of teams he played for, that Cruyff hasn't won a world cup. What has that got to with anything or leadership?? This is so childish, Don.
    All soccer players in Holland smoked, especially coming from that generation. Europeans always smoke, that is nothing eccentric about it. It seems like whenever I converse with you I have to go back and delve into things which has nothing to with the subject matter and have to explain that first. Inability to stay with one team? What has that got to do with being a great player or great leader?? And players that don't like him know that if you don't listen to how Cruyff wants the game to be played then you don't play..it is that simple ,for he is in control. But since he is one of the most intelligent player they all listen to him and follow him. Inability to stay with one team is also a joke. He played in his pro life for two teams..Ajax and Barcelona. What he did after that was to come out of retirement and play in the US and back to Holland for couple years in his retirement years. "Unbalanced" team?Cruyff would make sure the team would not be unbalanced...that is leadership and vision for you, which Messi lacks. Not winning a world cup, big deal, so Ronaldo and Zlatan like Messi haven't won a world cup ..big deal who judges player on that criteria.

  25. frank schoon, February 17, 2017 at 1:34 p.m.

    Don, to compare what Messi has done with the Argentinian National Team as compare to what Cruyff has done with the Dutch National Team,..what kind analogy is that to judge players on?? This is why I feel you really don't have that much soccer experience to come up with these kinds of analysis. But I'll play along. Cruyff accomplished in WC'74 a level of soccer called "Total Soccer" which excited the world and to this day no one really talks about the winner of the WC'74 but Holland (that didn't win), Cruyff and Total Soccer which is emulated by teams today like Barcelona , Bayern, both teams that have excited likewise. Cruyff showed the world in WC'74 the most exciting soccer played...I can hardly say that for Messi , who rather wanted to quit the National team for his lack of.....

  26. frank schoon, February 18, 2017 at 8:32 a.m.

    Don, so when Cruyff was asked to name in his book the top Eleven of all time he left out Messi because he wanted to send a message to Messi. WOW, you have quite an imagination. Ha,ha...
    If you really understood Cruyff, and why many people didn't like him was he was very direct and to the point and didn't hide anything and told it right to your face.Critical, direct ,and not circumspect are the major trademarks of the Dutch...something you don't know anything about ?

  27. Bob Ashpole, February 18, 2017 at 9:47 a.m.

    A double pivot? Now I will have to watch that match.

  28. frank schoon replied, February 18, 2017 at 1:15 p.m.

    Bob, You should watch that PSG-BARCA match and see how pathetic Messi looks out there...You will never see Pele ,Cruyff or a Maradona or any of the other greats look like that. Half the time you don't even notice Messi out there....that is certainly not the case with the other Greats for even if they didn't do much out there, let us say, just their presence is enough to be noticeable.
    BTW another great player Piet Keizer just died last week, a teammate and former teacher of Johan Cruyff, Piet Keizer. Many in Holland use to argue who was better , Keizer of Cruyff. The conclusion was Cruyff was the best but Keizer was better. Keizer is phenomenal and that is also the reason why Cruyff picked as one of the top 11 of all time. There is quite a bit of him on Youtube. He no doubt execute the best scissor move ever.....

  29. don Lamb replied, February 18, 2017 at 7:38 p.m.

    Frank - You keep referencing this ONE game. With them playing a completely different formation. Have you been watching the last 10 years of Messi domination? To say that he is not an all time top 10 player is absolutely nuts by every other standard in the world besides Johan Cruyff's. He might have been a genius, but you shouldn't take EVERYTHING that he says as gospel.

  30. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 19, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    Don't you guys know? Cruyff never had a bad game and his team never lost.

  31. frank schoon, February 18, 2017 at 8:50 p.m.

    Don, i've seen him in other games do this. This is not the first game, as a matter of fact I have just about every Barca game on DVD except this year for I think Barcelona is going down hill ,which began actually in the second half of the previous season ; and likewise I saw him disappear in certain games for Argentina. Even Pele has a higher opinion of Beckenbauer than Messi. But all of this is besides the point for Cruyff didn't think he was good enough to be in the top 11. My opinion of Messi runs similar to these two greats and says enough....

  32. don Lamb replied, February 18, 2017 at 9:25 p.m.

    Sounds like they have Charles Barkley syndrome. I don't care what they accomplished on the field, the opinion that Messi is not an all time top 10 player is asinine.

  33. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 19, 2017 at 10:20 a.m.

    I don't know if you created the term "charles barkley syndrome" but it's a great one and perfectly describes what ails Frank.

  34. frank schoon, February 18, 2017 at 11:08 p.m.

    Don, Barkley, Snarkley, I don't really give a hoot.
    You look pretty silly going against these two guys, who individually have more knowledge of the game in their left pinky that you could ever acquire in a lifetime. And any sane person would rather listen to their expertise and knowledge about the game than whatever you got say....otherwise keep dreaming!

  35. K Michael, February 19, 2017 at 1:47 p.m.

    Okay, Frank, I do enjoy reading your opinions and observations on a game you quite obviously are deeply knowledgeable and passionate about. Here comes the but….
    But, while you are certainly entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to the facts:
    Based on statistics from regular games played between the WC of 2010 and Febr, 2016, Messi
    1. Messi had a combined 291 goals and assists in 201 games, the most marks of any player in that time.
    2. He led the world in efficiency with .22 goals per shot attempt.
    3. Taking on defenders one-on-one, Messi led all attackers with more than 8 take-ons per game, yet led the world with a better than 55% success rate
    4. During this time frame his ratio of goals to assists per game (the unselfish metric) was third only to Frank Ribery and Mesut Ozil
    5. He led all forwards/wingers with over 3,800 completed forward passes with a 46.8% success rate, far and away the highest success rate in that period.
    6. His almost 30 through-ball assists led all attackers as well (by almost double)
    7. For the making- his- team-better statistic, his goals-plus-assists per possessions used (or touch) leads everybody, just ahead of Ronaldo.
    I would bet that the great Cruyff himself wouldn’t even come close to the above stats. Google Lionel Messi IS Impossible, and double-check the analysis if you like, but it clearly shows Messi is not only the best modern player, but a bona fide statistical black swan event in and of himself!

  36. frank schoon, February 19, 2017 at 2:35 p.m.

    K, I will grant you that Messi and Christian Ronaldo are the best players today on the field. I'm not going to check the stats for those are meaningless to me, for that is not how I judge a player. If I go by those stats he, I would assume he should be fantastic with the Argentinian National Team as well but he isn't..he's a dud!
    Messi is a great player with Barcelona but just an ordinary player with Argentina and that has always been the question about him throughout his playing career for Argentina. A great like Pele, Cruyff, Maradona, no matter what team they played for or where they played were Great, Inspiring,and a Presence on the field. Again stats are meaningless to me for example , you can be the best player on the field even having not touch the ball. But that is whole other discussion for that goes into much finer detail of the game......

  37. don Lamb replied, February 19, 2017 at 8:34 p.m.

    Frank - Messi has been brilliant for Argentina. You apparently have not watched many of his games with Argentina over the years because he has been great for that team even though he is usually playing in a different role than he does with Barca. Much of his time with Argentina has been in midfield. He is unquestionably one of the top 10 players of all time. If you truly debate this, please give us your list.

  38. Fire Paul Gardner Now, February 19, 2017 at 5:05 p.m.

    Frank is like a lot of older folks. Everything was better in their day, nothing today can compare and so on (and not just with sports either). So tiresome though and sad because Frank watches a guy like Messi and instead of seeing an all-time great, he has to find reasons why he isn't as good as the heroes of his youth.

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