BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Quique Setien says his side still have what it takes to win this season’s Champions League despite their dismal end to the La Liga campaign.
Barca surrendered the title to Real Madrid after Thursday’s 2-1 defeat by Osasuna, leading to fierce criticism from captain Lionel Messi who said his side had no hope of going far in the Champions League.
Barca play their final league La Liga game of the season at Alaves on Sunday before hosting Napoli on Aug. 8 in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. //
Should they progress, they will qualify for the eight-team tournament being held in Lisbon as a one-off event due to the competition being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He (Messi) is right that if we play as badly as we have done in some games we won’t win anything but we have had great moments,” Setien told a news conference on Saturday.
“The important thing is we all know how we need to improve, and we need to learn to be a more reliable team. If we can play as well as we did in the (4-1 win) against Villarreal, then I’m sure we can win the Champions League.”
Setien also dismissed suggestions Messi was taking aim at the coach when he criticised the team’s run of form since January, the month the 61-year-old took charge after Ernesto Valverde was sacked.
“Absolutely not. We all say things in certain moments that can be wrongly interpreted. Things like that happen every day in moments of frustration and I don’t give it too much importance,” Setien added.
“The team has not been playing as well as it should and we all need to take a break, clear our heads, transform ourselves and return to being the team we can be.”
Setien met with Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Friday.
“It’s normal to have meetings like that, we are all concerned about getting the team to improve and that’s what the meeting was about, to prepare for the future with optimism,” Setien said.
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond