• Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

Copa del Rey: Xavi defends Alba, Dembele and Ansu Fati after 3-2 defeat to Athletic Club

Barcelona’s Copa del Rey title ambitions were dashed on Thursday night when they were eliminated from the competition after losing 2-3 to Athletic Club at San Mames.

Xavi Hernandez’s defensive line struggled to keep up with Bilbao’s considerably younger attackers.

In just two minutes of play, Iker Muniain gave the hosts the lead, and it was evident that they were determined to dominate the Catalan giants.

In the 20th minute, Barça equalized through Ferran Torres. Fans were ecstatic to see the newcomer contribute, proving Xavi’s decision to sign him from Manchester City was well-founded.

Nico Williams was a constant threat throughout the game, and Inigo Martinez made it 2-1 with a free kick from Muniain in the 86th minute, before Pedri equalized in stoppage time.

Barcelona, on the other hand, were unable to seize the initiative in extra time, when Muniain was sent to the penalty spot by Jordi Alba’s handball. Ter Stegen had no chance, and the Blaugrana’s Copa del Rey season came to an end.

Barcelona is in disarray with their early loss from the Copa del Rey.

“Bilbao performed very, very well,” Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez stated. We attempted to compete, but it proved difficult. The game was stressful to say the least. It was evident that they were superior than us in set pieces. I noticed an extremely powerful athlete. It’s a challenge. Now we must concentrate on the league, the Europa League, and continue to work hard.”

“The game was quite difficult. Athletics is a very physical and powerful sport. We were never able to truly control the outcome of the game. We didn’t feel at ease. Congratulations on their level of commitment. We, on the other hand, must continue to work hard and trust in the initiative,” he continued.

“Recovering mentally is the most crucial thing.” Losing two crowns in a matter of days is a huge setback. So, what’s next? We don’t have a choice except to keep going. He stated, “We have to attempt to win every game.”

“No,” he said when asked if Ousmane Dembele’s presence would have changed the game’s outcome. I don’t believe Dembélé’s presence would have made a difference. He’s a vital player, but as a club, we’ve made that decision. “We’re all in agreement.”

After a disastrous night at left-back, Xavi refused to blame Jordi Alba for the defeat. “From the beginning, he was in pain. I’m not going to comment on any specific player today. “The entire defense took a hit,” Barça’s coach continued.

During the game, Ansu Fati, who had recently returned to Barcelona, and other Barcelona players were injured. “Jordi Alba, Piqué, and Pedri all finished the game with some discomfort,” the manager remarked of the night’s injuries. Pedri appeared to be in good health. I believe that is insignificant. We’ll have to wait for Ansu’s exams tomorrow.”

Barcelona returns to Spanish La Liga play on Sunday when they face Deportivo Alaves.

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