Barca can turn Euro pain to Clasico gain-Enrique

(China Daily)
Updated: 2017-04-21 07:11:40


Barcelona's Neymar looks dejected after the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, second-leg match against Juventus at Camp Nou in Barcelona on Wednesday. The match ended 0-0 as Juve advanced to the semifinal 3-0 on aggregate. Albert Gea / Reuters

BARCELONA - Barcelona boss Luis Enrique said his final season in charge can still end in glory despite bowing out of the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage to Juventus on Wednesday.

Juventus held onto its 3-0 first-leg lead to progress to the last four by blunting Barca's star-studded attack in a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou.

Neymar left the field in tears, but around the stadium there was appreciation for Barca's valiant effort by the crowd, estimated at 100,000.

"It's a sad night, but we tried until the last minute and that was recognized by the fans at the end," said Enrique, who will step down at the end of the campaign.

"This is a team that never gives up, that fights for every title, doesn't relax and always accepts the challenge.

"It is a joy to belong to a club like this."

Barca now travels to face arch-rival Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday, realistically needing to win to maintain its hopes of a third straight La Liga title.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks dejected while playing against Juventus during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg in Barcelona, Spain, April 19. [Photo/Agencies]

Madrid tops the standings by three poins, but also holds a game in hand.

"Barca is a team built to compete, to win trophies and to face every challenge," said Enrique.

"It is clear we are very hurt to be eliminated from a competition that excites us so much, but now comes a key game against the leader and a direct rival.

"We have to get ready to compete and I am sure we will do that."

Barca will be without Neymar against Real through suspension and the Catalans will need Lionel Messi back in top form as the Argentine was off target with the only two clear chances the host created on Wednesday.

"We had 13 or 14 shots, but I think only one was on target, which are the ones that tend to do damage," said Enrique.

Juventus is now in the last four for the second time in three years under coach Massimiliano Allegri.

However, he believes it is far more equipped to win the Champions League for a third time than when it lost to Barca in the final two years ago.

"The self-belief of the team has grown a lot," said Allegri.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique and Juventus coach watch the game between their teams in Barcelona, Spain, April 19. [Photo/Agencies] 

"There are only two players who started tonight who started the (2015) final in Berlin. That says a lot of how well the club has recruited.

"We are desperate to go as far as we can and achieve something extraordinary."

Barca defender Gerard Pique conceded Juventus deserved to go through over the two legs.

"Overall they were the better team and deserved to go through," he told BeIN Sports Spain.

"Little by little we started to create chances, but they built a mountain. It wasn't to be."

Pique also called on Barca players to reward the fans' support with victory in the Clasico.

"That the fans were still singing needs to be remembered. I think it is one of the few times I have seen Camp Nou like that in a defeat. It makes me proud," he said.

"We will go to Madrid to compete and try to win.

"In the last few years it has been good to us. We are not in our best moment, but we can win."

Agence France-Presse



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