Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has hailed Barcelona’s current setup, claiming that it might be the best it’s been in the last decade.
Rooney’s Red Devils will face off against the reigning Spanish and European champions this Saturday in a preseason friendly in the US, and prior to that fixture the England skipper was asked just how good he believed the Catalans have become under Luis Enrique.
As relayed by ESPN, Rooney replied with a statement sure to ring positively amongst all Blaugrana fans, suggesting that the different way of playing they have adopted has benefitted the club.
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“Barcelona are a fantastic team and, after Real Madrid winning the Champions League [in 2014], they wouldn't have liked that and they've come out again and been incredible really, probably as good as they have been over the last 10 years, I believe,” Rooney said.
“It's a different way of playing - they're defending a little bit deeper and not going and closing down teams the way they did and they're hurting teams on the counter-attack.
“You can see there's a change in the way they play but, with the players they have got, obviously [Lionel] Messi, Neymar and [Luis] Suarez, they are a massive threat to anyone.”
It’s difficult to argue with Rooney when one considers the way Barca surged to a famous treble last season after a relatively tame start.
Calls for Enrique to be sacked were soon replaced with exclamations of praise once the Spaniard engineered a formula to get the best out of his world-class side, and towards the end of the campaign Lionel Messi and Co. looked more than a match for any team in the world.
Not taking into account the fact that the front trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar comfortably strolled past the 100 goals in a season barrier between them, Barca look overwhelmingly brilliant from back to front. They’ve mixed Pep Guardiola’s incredible ball retention with a keen emphasis on working hard as a cohesive defensive unit.
Better than Pep's?
As a result it’s hard to say that anything Rooney said was wrong, even if it means accepting that Enrique’s Barca could possibly be even better than Guardiola’s was.
Truth be told it’s a quandary sure to be answered definitively either way by the end of the next campaign, but it looks likely they’ll be just as efficient as they’ve been for the past few months.
Fans might well have a little taster of just how lethal they can be when they face off against United this coming weekend in San Francisco.
Thus far Louis van Gaal’s men have bested the San Jose Earthquakes and Club America in their two matches on US soil, though obviously neither of those outfits boast the talent Barcelona do.
Meanwhile Barca beat Steven Gerrard’s LA Galaxy in their first match Stateside on Tuesday, and they will be looking to make a statement as they clash with a far more distinguished foe.
United fans, what are your score predictions for the Barcelona friendly? Is Rooney right when he says they are as good as they’ve been for a decade? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.