Barcelona coach Xavi was left seething after his side missed a “golden opportunity” to move clear in second place in LaLiga.
Having been eliminated from the Europa League on home soil by Eintracht Frankfurt last Thursday, Barca lost consecutive games at Camp Nou for the first time since April 2003 as lowly Cadiz condemned them to a 1-0 defeat.
Lucas Perez’s second-half winner marked the 32nd goal Barca have conceded in 31 league games this season, their worst tally at this stage of a season since the 2012-13 campaign (33).
Barca’s 15-match unbeaten run in the league had seen them harbour hopes of a title challenge, but they now have just seven games left to catch Real Madrid, who are 15 points clear.
Indeed, Barca’s main focus will now realistically be on the teams below them. Atletico Madrid and Sevilla sit on 60 points, like the Blaugrana, but Real Betis (57) and Real Sociedad (55) are not far behind.
“We’re p***** off,” Xavi told reporters. “We have lost a golden opportunity to distance ourselves from the fight for the Champions League and to continue in the fight for the title. We have almost said goodbye to LaLiga.
“We are Barca and we must do more. The team should have shown more desire and enthusiasm. It’s not about attitude because the players want it, but we need a competitive character.
“They [Cadiz] defended the play as if it were the last, and we have to match that.
“We have to be humble and think that we haven’t done anything. To be in the Champions League next year, we have to play with more faith, determination and drive. We have to grit our teeth because we’ve got a lot at stake.”
2 – Barcelona have lost two home games in a row in all competitions for the first time since April 2003: 2-4 in LaLiga against Deportivo de La Coruña and 1-2 in Champions League against Juventus. Surprise. pic.twitter.com/xc2QaJ1Fmd
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 18, 2022
Despite overseeing a dramatic upturn in fortunes since taking charge, Xavi said the defeat showed there was much work required for Barca to return to the level of his playing days.
“When you win 4-0 at the Bernabeu it’s logical that you say ‘we’re back’, but now we’re also making mistakes,” he added.
“We must be self-critical, and we must react to ensure the goal of Champions League [qualification].
“We have to work for the great Barca to come back. We beat Madrid and Sevilla with two great games with the same team and the same staff. If we’ve done it [before], we can do it again.”
The game was played in a muted atmosphere after a prominent group of Blaugrana fans boycotted in protest at the club’s handling of last week’s loss to Frankfurt, where an estimated 30,000 away fans got tickets to the match.
“We need the people,” Xavi said. “The other day it affected us a lot, the fans have been extraordinary.
“Hopefully the next game they will be with us. Barcelona must be united and at least go to the Champions League next year. It’s a shame they didn’t come. We need everyone. It’s important that in the next game at home the three points stay here.”
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