Barcelona players call for unity after being dumped out of the Copa del Rey.
Barcelona played one of their better games since Quique Setién took over from Ernesto Valverde. They had more possession and unlike previous matches, they were creating chances with that possession. But in the end, it did not matter.
Similar to the end of Valverde’s reign, the team played its best football but still managed to lose to Athletic Bilbao thanks to a late winnier by Iñaki Williams. The loss was the third one since the start of the new year with this one knocking out of the chase for a title.
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After the loss, both Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba tried to calm things down following the response by Lionel Messi to Eric Abidal’s comments regarding the players being partly responsible for Valverde’s dismissal.
They both stressed the importance of the locker room being together and looking ahead to the rest of the season.
According to Sport, Pique said,
“There’s complete unity in the dressing room. The KO is a blow, but we’ve spoken among ourselves about the fact we played well, despite all the noise generated this week.”
Jordi Alba was more upfront stating that they have enough criticism thrown their way without them needing to do it to themselves.
“The players and coaching staff are the ones showing their faces. This club gets enough shit thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn’t be throwing shit at ourselves as well.”
Pique’s call for unity is more diplomatic than Alba’s but the message is the same. That the club needs to be together and not cause itself unnecessary turmoil. From Alba’s perspective it’s almost becoming an “us vs them” mentality.
Despite being eliminated from the Copa del Rey, the Catalans are very much alive both in the Champions League and in La Liga. The month of February is going to be a crucial month if they hope to stay alive in both competitions.
They face Napoli at the end of the month and face some tough opponents before facing off against Real Madrid on March 1. They cannot afford to fall any further behind in the league.
They played their best match in a long time but it wasn’t enough. They need to put their chances away or they risk what happened against Athletic Bilbao. The players and coaching staff know this.
For now all they can do is keep working and improving because nothing brings a locker together quite as quickly like winning does.