After seeing his side crash out of the Champions League on Wednesday night, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has insisted that it is solely his fault.
The reigning European champions were defeated 2-0 in the second leg of their quarter-final clash with Atletico Madrid, which in turn sealed a 3-2 win on aggregate for Diego Simeone’s men.
With his side outplayed and unable to create any clear goalscoring opportunities, it was a disappointing night all round for the Catalan giants who would have been confident of defending their crown this year.
It is just the third time in 11 years that they have failed to make the last four, and they have now lost three of their last four games in all competitions as they hit a rocky patch at the wrong time of the campaign.
Enrique has moved to deflect the pressure and attention away from his players, insisting that if anyone is to blame for their elimination in mid-week, it’s him.
“I’m 99.9 per cent to blame, no 100,” he said, as reported by Sky Sports. “That’s why I am the coach, the most responsible. I can’t say anything bad about the attitude of my players.
“It was the game we predicted, although perhaps I didn’t expect Atletico to play so deep. It wasn’t our best day. We have not had our best day, but in the second half we have had chances. It was not to be. Atletico deserve praise.
“Our goals are always the highest, we’re proud to be always favourites, we must accept the defeat and focus on our remaining objectives. We have to stay calm and think that we still have two competitions where we are in the running.”
Barcelona host Valencia at the Camp Nou on Sunday night hoping to get their La Liga title defence back on track, as they sit just three points ahead of Atleti with six games remaining.
Having looked dominant and at their majestic best not so long ago, Enrique and his players will start to feel the pressure to avoid a complete collapse which would naturally be a disaster for a club of Barca’s stature with the expectation of winning every competition they’re involved in.
Nevertheless, given the players at his disposal, it is highly unlikely that their dip in form will drag on as it is difficult to see the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez being kept quiet for much longer.