After failing to defeat Inter Milan on Wednesday, Barcelona faces being eliminated in the group stages for the second consecutive season. Xavi Hernandez claimed that the Champions League has been harsh to Barcelona this season.
After an exciting 3 to 3 draws at Camp Nou, Barca will be eliminated if Inter pick up three points in their final two matches against Viktoria Plzen and Bayern Munich.
In his press conference following the game, Xavi said, “The Champions League is being harsh to us this season.” “There were other situations in Milan last week, but there is no need to talk about [those refereeing decisions], and then tonight it is down to defensive blunders,” he said. “Against Bayern Munich, we were not clinical enough.
“Our chances of succeeding are now extremely slim. Though the situation is quite challenging, we won’t give up. Our mistakes are to blame since we can no longer rely on ourselves.
In front of a boisterous home crowd of 92,302, Ousmane Dembele had scored the game’s first goal in the 40th minute. However, goals from Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez changed the course of the match after the intermission.
Robin Gosens restored Inter’s lead on the counterattack after Robert Lewandowski had once more pulled Barca even. It was too late for Xavi’s team, but Lewandowski managed to tie the score once more in stoppage time with his sixth goal of the competition this year.
In the buildup to Inter’s second goal, captain Sergio Busquets turned the ball over, while defender Gerard Pique switched off and allowed Barella to finish from behind.
Xavi continued, “You have to minimize errors because football is a game of mistakes. “We made defensive errors that cost us the game because you pay a hefty price for errors in the Champions League.
“But we are a team, and if the team fails, I also fail. If Pique or Busquets or Pedri or Dembele make a mistake, I do too as a coach, and I take responsibility for it.”
For the first time since 2004, Barcelona did not go past the round of 16 in the Champions League last year. For the second year in a row, they risk missing out on the knockout rounds.
The disappointment and rage, according to Xavi, are greater this year because Barca has the talent to advance deeper in the tournament as a result of the summer’s investment in the team.
The coach admitted, “I am quite disappointed, unhappy, and maybe a bit irritated.” “Last season, there was a perception that we weren’t good enough, but this time, blunders were to blame.”
“We had the games in our hands, but we let it slip, especially in Munich, but also tonight against Inter. We must also be critical of ourselves because we are responsible for our blunders.”
“This makes it hurt more because maybe last year we weren’t good enough, we weren’t performing at the desired level.”
Despite having 25 shots and 62% of the ball against Inter, Xavi acknowledged his team needs to improve in the final third.
When asked about Dembele, he responded, “I believe we need to make better selections. “It’s about footballing maturity, and not just Ousmane, since we all need to make better decisions when we enter the final third.
Although they are quite young, Gavi and Pedri make wise decisions. [Tonight] Ousmane struggled harder. Although I have a lot of faith in Ousmane, occasionally he makes poor decisions. We’re quite confident in him because he speeds up the pitch and stretches it.”