Barcelona, April 3 (IANS) Catalan football giants Barcelona’s head coach Luis Enrique has work to do ahead of their European Champions League quarter-final at home against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Saturday night saw Barcelona lose to Real Madrid 1-2 in the Camp Nou Stadium to end their record-breaking run of 39 games without defeat, reports Xihhua.
More worrying than the defeat itself was Barcelona side filled with players who had flown back late from South American World Cup qualifying matches looked flat and tired against their rivals.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar lacked their usual sharpness in attack, while Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves were also below their best, with Alves at fault for the winning goal as he misjudged the flight of a cross allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to score.
Meanwhile midfielders Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta were also disappointing after suffering slight muscle problems over the past fortnight.
“As a rule I don’ t talk about this (tiredness) because I don’t like to look for excuses. You have to play and you have to accept the circumstances,” said the Barcelona coach, who now has just two days to prepare for Tuesday’s game.
“I have to look at what went wrong, but we have to pick ourselves up. This game (Saturday) doesn’t exist for us any more and it doesn’t hurt,” added Enrique, who will be looking at possible solutions.
“Defeats teach you things. They teach you that every title is hard to win and the players all know that.”
In contrast to Barcelona’s difficult night, Atletico Madrid enjoyed a placid afternoon on Saturday as they cruised past Betis 5-1 in a game which was under control with over half an hour left to play.
Although Atletico could be without first choice central defensive duo Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez in the Camp Nou, coach Diego Simeone was able to rest players such as Saul and Fernando Torres, who will quite likely take to the pitch on Tuesday night.
Barcelona have already beaten Atletico twice in the La Liga this season but on Tuesday tired legs could be a factor.