Barcelona must stick together and recover from their Champions League exit by proving why they are the best in La Liga, says Luis Enrique.
Barca fell to a 2-0 defeat in the second leg of their quarter-final against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, succumbing to a 3-2 aggregate loss.
The result followed a run of three league matches without a win, including successive defeats at the hands of Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, allowing Atletico to close the gap at the summit to just three points with six matches remaining.
Coach Luis Enrique admitted the team’s spirit has suffered as a result, but he wants the players to bind together ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Valencia.
“Of course they are carrying a disappointment and it’s hard to digest, but we are professionals,” he said. “It’s not just one thing. You can’t really find a catch-all solution for everything. I’ve just got to concentrate on the positive things.
“There are six games until the end of the season and also a cup final. We never thought we had done everything right and just because we’ve suffered a set-back doesn’t mean I’m going to say we’ve done everything wrong. We need to stay optimistic, there’s no point crying.
“We set our targets very high, higher than any other club in the world. It’s a self-imposed obligation to win every title, but we have to forget about the Champions League because we cannot do anything about it now.
“I don’t think that in La Liga any team has been better than Barca, but the problem with the league is that it’s all about consistency. I wouldn’t change this team for any other. So let’s see if we can turn around this nasty situation.
“We are just thinking about Valencia, but we have three league games this week – that’s half of what we’ve got left. We have to be focused.
“If things are going well and flowing we want them to stay the same, but now we’re in a negative stretch we need to really turn things around and be strong. We need to keep solidarity, we need to stick together in every aspect.”
Dani Alves has drawn criticism for posting a video on social media imitating his girlfriend Joana Sanz consoling him following the Champions League exit, but Luis Enrique has no problem with the Brazilian’s action.
“I think we all know Dani Alves, he likes playing around of social networks. We’ve seen him singing, dancing, laughing and crying, he does everything on there,” he said.
“Whether it was a wise move, people will have their opinions, but all I can say is he’s a competitor who has brought so much to this team. He’s a fundamental member of the team.
“I think sometimes people tend to work things to excess and social networks tend to highlight that. I don’t think he meant to cause any offence.”
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