After seeing their 18-game unbeaten run snap earlier this week at the hands of Manchester United, FC Barcelona suffered their second defeat in a row as UD Almeria secured a shock 1-0 win over the La Liga leaders.
El Bilal Toure put the relegation-battling minnows ahead at the Power Horse Stadium in the first period. Barça huffed and puffed in search of a way back into the game but could not muster up enough clear-cut chances in the final third to equalise.
With the result, the Blaugrana missed a golden opportunity to stretch their lead atop the table to ten points after Real Madrid were held to a draw last night by Atletico Madrid.
It was a disappointing display overall from Barcelona and speaking after the match, manager Xavi Hernandez admitted that he was very angry at the result, and termed the performance as the worst of the season by his side.
“This was our worst match of the season. I’m very pissed off. It was too difficult. We weren’t there. We weren’t inside the match,” he said.
The Barça legend was honest in his assessment of the result, as he said: “There are no excuses today. We didn’t deserve to win and we have to take responsibility. I’m very pissed off.”
Xavi made as many as four changes to the starting XI today and explaining his decision to rotate, he added: “We noticed fatigue today. That’s why we did so many rotations. The players were tired and it was clear.”
“We want to say sorry to the fans. What we saw today is inexcusable. I don’t understand it,” he said, apologising to the fans.
Meanwhile, Xavi also took the responsibility for the result upon himself, saying: “I am the person most responsible. We failed. Luckily we have a cushion of points in La Liga. I always said that it was going to be extremely difficult to win it.”
“We lacked passion in the first half. In the second half, we tried everything… 3-4-3, Araujo as a striker… Nothing. It wasn’t meant to be. It was not enough.”
Further sending a warning to his players, the manager added: “If we don’t change our mental chip now, it will cost us the league title.”
Early in the second half, Xavi received a yellow card from the referee for protesting a decision. It was his fifth booking of the season, meaning he will be suspended for the game against Valencia. Talking about it, the manager said:
“I’ll be suspended for the next match, and that’s it. Sometimes I protest when I shouldn’t. It’s fine.”
Opening up on the La Liga title race, Xavi added that his team will recover, but the road ahead will not be easy for them.
“We’ll recover, but we won’t win La Liga comfortably. Nobody should think that. We’re competing against Real Madrid, the current champions of La Liga and the Champions League.”
Looking for positives from the outing, Xavi pointed at youngsters Pablo Torre and Angel Alarcon, who came on as late substitutes when Barcelona were chasing the game.
“Pablo Torre and Ángel Alarcón were good when they came on. Pablo is training well and he’s ready to play. He tried to play inside with Lewandowski, but it was difficult,” he said.
Discussing what went wrong for his team on the day, he added: “There’s nothing else to do but self-criticism. We lacked the intensity of Almería to win the match.”