By Richard Martin
Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has criticised their tactical and physical frailties after a 4-0 thrashing at Paris St Germain in the last 16 left them on the brink of their earliest Champions League exit in a decade.
The five-times European champions were crushed in every aspect of the first-leg clash by Unai Emery’s side, suffering their heaviest defeat in Europe since 2013 and under coach Luis Enrique, who appeared ruffled in front of the media.
“They (PSG) played much better than us and they overwhelmed us physically,” Busquets told Catalan television network TV3.
“They pressed us harder, they were much better tactically than us, they had a plan and executed it how they wanted to and they were the better team”.
The midfielder also appeared to criticise the team’s preparation for the game, adding: “We expected something else but that’s what can happen. We hope to be able to turn things around at the Nou Camp but I can’t lie, it’s very difficult.”
Luis Enrique cut an uneasy figure in an interview with TV3 which he cut short, saying: “Stop looking for more reasons. This is my responsibility and I hope you use the same tone now we have lost as when we win.”
In his news conference, Luis Enrique said his side were utterly outplayed although he rejected suggestions he had not prepared his players properly for the high pressing game PSG carried out to perfection.
“We weren’t surprised at all, we had spoken about their pressing before the game but that doesn’t mean you can overcome it. We lost so many individual duels. PSG played as we expected and played at their best and we did not,” he said.
“It’s pretty simple. Our opponents were better than us with and without the ball. They won battles, they were more effective and the result clearly reflects what happened. I don’t think I have to give a huge explanation to Barca fans.”
Luis Enrique gave midfielder Andres Iniesta his first start for a month after his recovery from an ankle injury alongside Busquets who had also only recently returned from a layoff while Gerard Pique had just come back after a muscle injury.
“We had players that had just recovered but I don’t want to individualise, now is not the time. I have every confidence in my players, it’s time to talk about coaches and I assume full responsibility for this as always,” added Luis Enrique.
“The players are the same ones that have won on other days.”