Lack of rotation at Barcelona is paying dividends for Luis Enrique

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It's taken five long months of the 2014/15 season but finally things appear to be settling down at Barcelona.

Aside from a keeper-swap for the Copa del Rey, Luis Enrique has stopped tinkering and decided to offer the same starting XI for three games in a row.

The squad have responded in kind, comprehensively beating Atletico Madrid and Deportivo in the league, and then deservedly taking a single-goal lead to the Vicente Calderon for the second leg of their cup quarter final with Atleti.

Moreover, the hunger and desire amongst the squad is self-evident. Something that has been missing for 12-18 months now.

Quite what's changed behind the scenes is unclear, but what's certain is that no one is pushing aside the Catalans' claims right now. On this form, only the very best will come close to overhauling them.

About time too.

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Too much rotation

It's unheard of to have a team at the elite level with a different starting line up for 28 games in succession.

Question marks remained over Enrique's head until recently. How could he not know his best starting XI? Did he have a problem with senior members of the squad and was punishing them accordingly? Was he unable to deal with the egos in the dressing room?

All of those questions and more appear to have been answered emphatically within the lat 10 days, and the blueprint for the remainder of the season is now there for all to see.

Best players, always

It's a simple rule of thumb in elite sport. Unless injuries, lack of fitness or loss of form dictate otherwise, you always start with your best players. Always.

No concessions should ever be given.

Taking Real Madrid as the template, Carlo Ancelotti has used the same set of players since the beginning of last season, subject to the above criteria meaning an occasional utilisation of others.

That continuity paid off handsomely with the Copa del Rey and Champions League bagged last season, and a healthy lead in La Liga plus taking all before them again in the UCL during this campaign.

Enrique's way

Maybe a sense of undue pressure from within the four walls and outside had convinced Enrique to dispense with his continuous rotation although you wouldn't necessarily know it from a typically gruff and forthright performance in his most recent press conference.

"I'll do things my way" was the standard response to a plethora of baying press hounds.

His way has definitely paid dividends in the last 10 days. Long may it continue.

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