Barca do not deserve to progress after draw against Inter – Xavi
The Spaniard switches focus to Real Madrid
Xavi declared Barcelona “do not deserve” to progress in the Champions League after failing to beat Inter at home on Wednesday.
Robert Lewandowski took his tally to 14 goals in all competitions this season – only Erling Haaland has scored more in Europe’s top five leagues – with two late equalisers in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Inter.
The Poland striker first levelled after Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez put Inter in front following Ousmane Dembele’s opener, before cancelling out Robin Gosens’ 89th-minute strike three minutes later.
Lewandowski now has five goals in his first two Champions League games for Barca at Camp Nou, though that meant little to Xavi after Barca were left trailing Inter by three points with just two games to go.
“If you don’t beat Inter at home you don’t deserve to go on,” the Blaugrana head coach told reporters, with Inter needing just one win from their final two games to progress and eliminate Barca.
“Now it doesn’t depend on us anymore, we don’t deserve to continue in the Champions League. It is a hard blow, very hard. The word would be cruel.
“If one player or the other makes a mistake as a manager, it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility when my players make mistakes.
“We had to stay focused and instead we went on the pitch badly in the second half, but it remains a mistake of the coach.
“In front of such extraordinary supporters, you had to do more. I’m disappointed and this competition is cruel to us.”
The stalemate not only signalled the likely end of Barca’s Champions League campaign this season, it also marked the first time in six games that Inter have avoided defeat at the Blaugrana in the competition.
Barca veteran Sergio Busquets echoed Xavi’s sentiments, bemoaning the Blaugrana for failing to deliver after investing heavily in the last transfer window to bring in the likes of Lewandowski and Raphinha.
“A disappointment. It was a difficult group but we had to aspire to more after all the signings that have been made,” Busquets said. “It is not mathematically [impossible] but it is very difficult.
“We have not been as forceful in the areas and that is paid for in the Champions League. It was heads or tails and it went wrong for us in that second half.”
While Barca’s hopes hang on the unlikely scenario of Inter losing against both Viktoria Plzen and Bayern Munich, who have already progressed, Xavi must now turn his attention to Sunday’s clash with Real Madrid.
“We think of [Real] Madrid [in Sunday’s] Clasico tomorrow, it will not be easy to win, but we must think of the championship where we want to continue to be first in the standings.
“The season is long, we have not given the best for our mistakes and this is cruel. We must continue.”