Barcelona succumbed to a third defeat in a row at Camp Nou in all competitions when they were handed a 0-1 loss by minnows Rayo Vallecano on Sunday night.
Having lost their last two matches at home against Eintracht Frankfurt and Cadiz, Xavi Hernandez & co. sought to turn things around. But a seventh-minute strike from Alvaro Garcia put the Catalans on the back-foot.
From that point on, Barça pushed and probed for an equaliser, but Andoni Iraola’s side kept their defensive shape and held firm to do the league double over their illustrious opponents.
Speaking to the media after the match, Barcelona manager Xavi credited his opposition for their dogged display, while admitting that his team was not good enough.
“The rival had a great defensive setup. The ball just didn’t wanna go in. This match was similar to the Cadiz one. We could not play in their half,” he said.
“We don’t start matches with the correct mentality. In the first half it wasn’t us. In the second we improved, we tried anyway and the ball didn’t want to come in. We deserved more,” Xavi added.
Further dissecting the performance, Xavi said: “They take advantage of their chances. We don’t. We have to be more effective. The situation is difficult, we have complicated ourselves.”
There was a major moment late in the game when Gavi was pushed to the ground inside the Rayo Vallecano box but the referee waved away the penalty claims.
Speaking of the decision made by the match official, Xavi said: “Ask the referee about the penalty. I don’t speak on his behalf. I haven’t seen the action enough… The referee should come out and talk here.”
“I don’t think referees make mistakes intentionally, I believe in their integrity,” he added.
The 42-year-old also accepted the blame for the defeat, claiming that he failed to motivate his players to the level required.
“Today I made a mistake as a coach. I did not manage to motivate my players. I come out here and I recognize it. I can say what I have done wrong, not what others have done… it would be disrespectful.”
“We are in a complicated period and we have to be very united. I understand the criticism, we are all to blame and the person most responsible, as a coach, is me.”
Xavi once again opted not to start Nico Gonzalez, with the youngster only coming on as a substitute later in the game. Speaking of the 20-year-old’s situation, he said: “He has a lot of competition. Today he played well. We need all players, there are five games left.”
The former midfielder also thanked the supporters for backing the team, saying: “We need the fans more than ever. Today they have been sensational.”
The Barcelona boss admitted that the team had lost a great chance to solidify their grip on the second place in the La Liga table. And he insisted that it is important to treat the next game against Mallorca as a final.
“I’m angry, annoyed, disappointed… A golden opportunity has been lost,” Xavi said.
“We have to prepare for Mallorca like it is a final. We have to disconnect and rest for a few days. Then we have to prepare for the Mallorca game like it’s a final,” he added.