Barcelona news: 'Bilbao played very very well,' says Xavi after the 3-2 Copa del Rey loss to Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba had a torrid time against Nico Williams as he struggled to deal with the pace of the teenager.

Barcelona boss Xavi; Credit: Twitter/@BarcaWorldwide

Barcelona’s title defense came to an end after they were defeated by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey round of 16 fixture on Thursday. The Blaugrana manager Xavi congratulated Bilbao after the match, for their strong performance to go through to the quarter-finals of the tournament. Iker Muniain put Bilbao ahead inside the opening two minutes before Ferran Torres equalised for Barcelona. Although Inigo Martinez restored Athletic Club’s lead, Pedri scored a stoppage time goal to take the game to extra-time. And then, in the 105th minute, Muniain stepped up and converted a spot kick to take his team through to the next round.

After the match, Xavi said: “Bilbao played very, very well. We tried to compete, but it’s been tough. The game was very intense. They were better than us in set pieces, and it was very clear. I saw a very strong Athletic. It’s tough. Now we have to focus on the league, the Europa League, and keep working hard.”

“The match was so difficult. Athletic is so physical, so strong. We could never really control the course of the game. We were not comfortable. Congratulations to them for their intensity level. As for us, we have to keep working hard and believe in the project,” he added.

Ansu Fati and Pedri went off injured

Barca left-back Jordi Alba had a torrid time against Nico Williams as he struggled to deal with the pace of the teenager. Nico provided the assist for Muniain’s opener after sprinting past Alba. Meanwhile in the extra-time, Alba handled the ball while trying to block Nico’s cross and a penalty was awarded to the hosts after VAR intervention. Muniain scored the winner from the spot.

However, Xavi refused to lay the blame on the Spanish internationals’ feet for the defeat. “He suffered from discomfort early on. I will not speak on any individual player today. The whole defense suffered,” the Barca boss added.

After the defeat, Xavi now has more problems to worry about as the likes of Ansu Fati and Pedri went off injured. Pedri had scored the goal in the injury-time that took the match to extra-time. Speaking of the injuries on the night, the manager said: “Jordi Alba, Piqué and Pedri all finished the game with some discomfort. Pedri seemed fine. I think it’s nothing. With Ansu, we’ll have to wait for the tests tomorrow.”

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