Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has said the La Liga giants are out for victory against Arsenal on Wednesday night (16 March), despite already having a 2-0 advantage following the first leg of their Champions League encounter. The Spaniard played down concerns over the absence of the suspended Gerard Pique, saying he has a number of alternative options in the shape of Thomas Vermaelen and Marc Bartra.
The reigning Champions League holders are in a sensational form, after a 6-0 victory over Getafe on Saturday extended their unbeaten run to 37 games. Lionel Messi's two goals in the first leg at North London mean that even a one-goal loss on Wednesday would be enough for the Catalans to go through, keeping alive their hopes of retaining the Champions League.
However, Luis Enrique wants Barcelona to stick to their guns and treat and beat Arsenal from the very first minute of the second leg, despite the goal-threat of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.
"We have a good result but we are not going to change anything," the Barcelona boss said in a press conference ahead of the game. "The objective is the same in every tie, either in the Champions Leaugue or in the Copa del Rey. The target is to win and be better than Arsenal tomorrow. If we can be that's perfect and we'll continue in the competition. So no change from us, maybe that's a question for [Arsene] Wenger, if he changes tomorrow?
"In London, they pressured us up the field and I am convinced that they will do the same here. They are a very direct team and they don't need to elaborate much to make things difficult for us. They have a very good aerial game, especially with Giroud and Welbeck, and we will have to be careful if their second line moves forward because they can create problems. The result is good but if we concede the first goal there will be some doubts. We need to be better than them."
Luis Enrique took advantage of their eight-point gap lead Atletico Madrid in La Liga recently to rest the likes of Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez, Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitic in recent league games. The quarter are all expected to return to the line-up against Arsenal, alongside Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Andres Iniesta, Neymar and Lionel Messi.
The manager said his main decision is who will partner Mascherano in the centre of defence after Pique was booked during the first leg. However, he says he has full faith in all potential replacements.
Asked about his plans to cope without Pique, the Barcelona manager said: "I have plenty of very good central defenders who have great speed. They are all very good in the air and are very good at bringing the ball up the field. I trust them completely."
Meanwhile, the Barcelona manager alerted his pupils players to the threats posed by Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, with the Chilean expected to be especially motivated ahead of his return to the Nou Camp.
"We have to try to handle quality players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis SAnchez. We want to keep the ball as much as possible to avoid counter-attacks. It will not be easy, but lately we have being doing that well," the Barcelona boss added. "Alexis is a very important player for Arsenal and the national team. He is a quality player, fast and attacking, and he has improved his way of playing since he came to Barcelona. We have to be careful with him."