Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has refused to make excuses ahead of the Champions League trip to Manchester City on Tuesday night (1 November) despite the fact he will be without key players due to injury.
Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta, Jeremy Mathieu and Aleix Vidal will miss the game but the boss suggested Arda Turan could be ready to return to action after he missed the La Liga weekend victory over Granada due to an ankle issue.
Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne are expected to step up into the starting line-up at the Etihad Stadium to cover the absences of Pique and Alba in the defence. However, there is more uncertainty over who could partner Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic in the middle of the park in order to fill the huge gap left by Iniesta.
The Barcelona boss opted to cover his absence with an experimental midfield in the weekend win over Granada – after using Rakitic in the holding role to give a deserved rest to Busquets. Rafinha Alcantara and Denis Suarez then completed the trio after playing in the roles which normally belong to the Croatian international and Iniesta.
The Brazilian midfielder took the opportunity with both hands after scoring the winner for Barcelona with his fifth goal of the campaign. However, Luis Enrique has failed to confirm who will be the chosen one to replace Iniesta at Manchester City as Rafinha, Denis, Andre Gomes and Turan are also fighting to a spot in the line-up.
"I have a lot of fortune in that I can choose from four or five players to replace Iniesta," the Barcelona boss said ahead of their visit to the Etihad Stadium. "Denis Suarez, Rafa (Rafinha), Arda (Turan), Andre (Gomes), they've all played well and I'm so lucky to have a number of great options."
"I don't think (injuries) are an excuse, all teams have these moments of injuries. Concentrate on the players you have available, I've said this for weeks. We have a great squad and we believe in all our players."
Turan missed the weekend victory over Granada after he suffered an ankle injury during the last week Super Cup Catalan defeat to Espanyol. However, the Turkish international has made the trip to Manchester and Luis Enrique suggested he will be fully fit to return to action when Barcelona visit Pep Guardiola's side.
"I suppose he will be fine but we will have to see how he trains," Luis Enrique said before Turan completed the Monday training session with the rest of his Barcelona teammates.
The Catalans beat Manchester City 4-0 at the Nou Camp earlier this month and will secure the qualification for the last 16 of the competition with another victory, having won all their first three games against Celtic, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Guardiola's side. However, Luis Enrique said that he doesn't only want the qualification but seeks to top the group.
"We want to be first in the group for that reason we have to win here against the toughest rival," the Barcelona boss added. "If we are able to qualify after just four games played it is because we have done things well."
Yet, the Barcelona boss has urged his side to don't take anything for granted as he is sure Guardiola will have something up his sleeve to seek revenge from their previous 4-0 win.
"It will be an encounter of identical philosophies, similar to what we saw at Camp Nou," Luis Enrique believes. "We will have to put in a big effort, be effective with and without the ball. The key will be to limit their thinking time, so that they do not have time in possession. We aim to keep the pressure high and try to make City attack as little as possible."
"I am sure that Guardiola knows the key to making things difficult for us. In three months (as City boss) he has managed to make his team identifiable which is certain to grow. Every month that passes and the immediate future of Manchester City is promising."