Luis Enrique has insisted he has a "blind faith" in Barcelona's squad, despite Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Real Madrid. Speaking ahead of the Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid on 2 April, the Spanish boss backed his players to bounce back from disappointment. He also refused to single out either his MSN trio or Arda Turan for criticism, with many suggesting the Turkish international's introduction to the game in the second half was the catalyst behind Los Blancos' comeback.
Barcelona arrived to El Clasico as clear favourites, following an unbeaten run of 39 games that set the Catalans on course for another treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and the Champions League. However, defeat against their nemeses has sparked doubts ahead of the crucial clash with Atletico Madrid, with some suggesting a squad shortage is to blame as Luis Enrique only made one substitution in the game.
The Barcelona manager replaced Ivan Rakitic with Turan in the 74th minute of the game in a bid to secure three points, with the score still at 1-1. Barcelona seemed to receive a huge boost just minutes later as Sergio Ramos was dismissed for the opposition. However, they lost control of the midfield and allowed 10-man Real to secure the win thanks to a late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Many scapegoated Turan for the defeat, as the player has struggled with Barcelona's philosophy since a big-money move from Atletico Madrid. The Turkish star excelled when given the freedom as leader of Diego Simeone's side, but he has failed to cope with a lower-profile role at Barcelona, where Luis Enrique's demands see him forced to defend to keep the team's balance.
The Barcelona manager, however, said he is delighted with his player and confident over his squad's potential to respond to the Clasico defeat with a victory over Atletico.
"It would be really sad to personally named after a defeat. He came at the worst time in the game. We are humans. We have to assess the mistakes," the Barcelona boss said in a press conference. "I am delighted with Arda Turan, he has great quality and brings us lots of things. Not all players adapt at same pace, logically, but Arda is fully adapted, he knows the mechanisms, there is no doubt about that."
The manager believes his side were superior to Real Madrid during the first part of the game, and played down concerns about whether the defeat could have a domino effect on the remaining part of the season.
"We play with an idea of football that we are not going to change and I am satisfied with what I saw in the game. Positionally there were very few errors. I have blind faith in my players and in the path we have to follow," he added.
"Any team would change positions with us. We are the best team in La Liga and we have to shore that up that with seven more victories. And now we take on a Champions League tie against a team at the very top level [Atletico Madrid].
"We, the professionals of this sport, don't tend to be so generous with praise and criticism and we assess things in function of what we have done. I think to focus on one part of a game is an error, be that the good or the bad. When we conceded the first goal we had some imprecisions, but we shouldn't forget that [Real Madrid] are almost as good as us and are fighting for the same objectives."
The MSN trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar also looked also far from their best in El Clasico. The Barcelona boss said that they were also not to blame, as the trinity are the best players in the world but not "machines".
"Messi, Neymar and Suarez are the best in the world, but they are not machines. They are not unbeatable nor invincible, not by a long shot."