‘Of course we can win the Champions League’: Beleaguered Barcelona boss Setien defiant despite Messi fears and La Liga flop
Under-fire Barcelona manager Quique Setien has insisted his team can still salvage their season by winning the Champions League despite relinquishing the La Liga title and facing criticism from disgruntled skipper Lionel Messi.
The Catalan giants’ two-year reign as Spanish champions ended this week when Real Madrid beat Villarreal 2-1 and Barca slumped to a home defeat against Osasuna.
The backlash from fans was particularly fierce towards Setien, who has only been in the job since taking over from the sacked Ernesto Valverde in January.
Messi vented his frustration at the state of affairs at the Nou Camp immediately after the defeat to 10-man Osasuna on Thursday, fuming: “We were inconsistent during the season. Real Madrid did their thing. We lost a lot of points. We have to do some self-criticism. We are Barcelona.
“We didn’t want to end the season like this but it represents how the season has gone. We were a very erratic, very weak, low-intensity team. We lost a lot of points and today’s game is a summary of the season.”
Also on rt.com
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner also suggested that Barcelona stood no chance against Italians Napoli in their Champions League last-16 second-leg in August, should they play the way they have been.
“If we continue like this, we’ll lose to Napoli,” Messi said of the second leg set for August 8 at the Nou Camp, and which is finely poised at 1-1 following the first meeting in Italy.
Speaking ahead of his team’s final league game of the season against Alaves on Sunday, Barcelona coach Setien insisted he could still turn things around, despite continued uncertainty over whether he will even be in a job come August.
“Tomorrow is an important game in which we must bounce back to reinforce ourselves and think about the future,” the 61-year-old Spaniard told the media, Marca reported.
“We must try to focus on what’s left which, in the Champions League, we hope it is a lot.
“We haven’t won the league but we have a very attractive challenge ahead of us.”
“It is true that if we play as badly as in the last games, obviously it is not going to give us a chance to win games.
“But we have also had great moments and if we play like that it can give us a chance to win it.
“We are all aware that there are many things to improve. We must be more consistent and more reliable. This is the reality.”
“If we manage to put in a display like at Villarreal [when Barca won 4-1], where everything went well, it will surely give us a chance to win the Champions League.
“We must be more reliable during the 90 minutes and convince ourselves that if we give our best, of course we can win the Champions League.”
Also on rt.com
Setien arrived at Barcelona having impressed in his previous appointment at Real Betis, and with a label as a devout disciple of Nou Camp legend Johan Cruyff and his style of play.
However, stuttering form saw Barca give up a two-point lead at the top of the La Liga table after the return from the coronavirus-enforced break.
The Catalan club have not won the Champions League since the 2014-15 season, and famously surrendered a 3-0 first-leg lead against eventual winners Liverpool in last season’s semi-final, losing 4-0 at Anfield in the return leg.
Also on rt.com