Barca can turn pain to gain

The New Age (Gauteng) - - SPORT -

BARCELONA boss Luis En­rique in­sists his fi­nal sea­son in charge can still end in glory de­spite bow­ing out of the Cham­pi­ons League at the quar­ter­fi­nal stage to Ju­ven­tus.

Ju­ven­tus held onto their 3­0 first leg lead to progress to the last four by blunt­ing Barca’s starstud­ded at­tack in a 0­0 draw on Wed­nes­day.

Ney­mar left the field in tears, but around the Camp Nou there was ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Barca’s valiant ef­fort by the near 100000 crowd.

“It’s a sad night, but we tried un­til the last minute and that was recog­nised by the fans at the end,” said En­rique, who will step down at the end of the cam­paign.

“This is a team that never gives up, that fights for ev­ery ti­tle, doesn’t re­lax and al­ways ac­cepts the chal­lenge.

“It is a joy to be­long to a club like this.”

Barca travel to face eter­nal ri­vals Real Madrid in El Cla­sico on Sun­day re­al­is­ti­cally need­ing to win to main­tain their hopes of a third straight La Liga ti­tle.

Madrid lead by three points at the top of the ta­ble, but also have a game in hand.

“Barca have a team built to com­pete, to win tro­phies and to face ev­ery chal­lenge.

“It is clear we are very hurt to be elim­i­nated from a com­pe­ti­tion that ex­cites us so much, but now comes a key game against the lead­ers and a di­rect ri­val.

“We have to get ready to com­pete and I’m sure we will do that ef­fec­tively.”

Barca will be with­out Ney­mar at the Bern­abeu through sus­pen­sion and the Cata­lans will need Lionel Messi back in top form as the Ar­gen­tine was off tar­get with the only two clear chances the hosts cre­ated on Wed­nes­day.

“We had 13 or 14 shots, but I think only one was on tar­get,” En­rique said.

“We are des­per­ate to go as far as we can and achieve some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

Barca de­fender Ger­ard Pique recog­nised that Ju­ven­tus de­served to go through over the two legs.

“Over­all they were the bet­ter team and de­served to go through,” he told Sports Spain.

“Lit­tle by lit­tle we started to cre­ate chances, but they built a moun­tain. It wasn’t to be.”

And Pique also called on the Barca play­ers to re­ward the fans’ sup­port at full­time with vic­tory in the Cla­sico.

“That the fans were still sing­ing needs to be re­mem­bered.

“I think it is one of the few times I have seen the Camp Nou like that in a de­feat.

“It moved me and makes me proud,” he said.

“We will go to the Bern­abeu to com­pete and try to win. In the last few years it has been good to us.

“We are not in our best mo­ment, but we can still win.” – AFP


SET­BACK: Barcelona for­ward Ney­mar was left heart­bro­ken af­ter be­ing knocked out of the Cham­pi­ons League.

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