Luis Enrique: 'Ridiculous to think Gomes can take Iniesta's place'

Luis Enrique has highlighted the importance of Andres Iniesta for Barcelona after benching him in favour of Andre Gomes.

Luis Enrique gave Gomes the nod ahead of Iniesta in Saturday's 3-2 La Liga win over Real Sociedad.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique stressed Andres Iniesta remains a key figure for the Catalans, suggesting Andre Gomes is not yet ready to displace the Spain international from the starting XI permanently. 

Luis Enrique gave Gomes the nod ahead of Iniesta in Saturday's 3-2 La Liga win over Real Sociedad, but the former Valencia man failed to impress and eventually made way for his experienced team-mate with 20 minutes left on the clock.

"Iniesta is unique and absolutely indisputable," said Luis Enrique when asked about his decision to bench the 32-year-old and start with Gomes instead. 

"I have always admired and appreciated him. It is ridiculous to think someone can take his place."

Barcelona put in an unconvincing performance to beat Sociedad and Luis Enrique has acknowledged it must improve as it prepares to take on Juventus and Real Madrid.

It will be looking to turn around a 3-0 defeat from the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against the Turin side on Wednesday, before its arch-rivals await at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday in what could prove to be a crucial game in the race for the La Liga title.

"We got a good result from a match against a difficult opponent," he added. "I am very satisfied with the players' performance. We deserved our win, even if we suffered.

"We have to be perfect against Juventus and Madrid. The players need confidence and to be comfortable. Making that happen is my job as the coach."

With Madrid having come from 2-1 down to defeat Sporting Gijon earlier in the day, Barca's win kept them within three points of Zinedine Zidane's side.

December's Clasico at Camp Nou ended 1-1, with Sergio Ramos netting at the death to wipe out Luis Suarez's opener.

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