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Xavi said: “We need to continue believing in this project.”

Xavi reeling from Copa del Rey defeat as Barca confirm Fati thigh injury.

He declared Barcelona must “change the dynamic” after Athletic Bilbao inflicted another crushing blow early in his reign as head coach.

Xavi admitted his Barcelona team failed to match the intensity of Athletic Bilbao as they tumbled out of the Copa del Rey at the last-16 stage, another blow in a dismal season.

Barcelona may yet claw their way into the Champions League places in LaLiga.

But their trophy pursuit looks doomed to failure.

Beaten by Real Madrid last week in the Supercopa semi-finals, a 3-2 defeat after extra-time against Athletic on Thursday was another bitter pill for head coach Xavi and his players.

Add in the blow of losing substitute Ansu Fati to what Barcelona described as “a femoral biceps injury in his left thigh”, and it was a calamitous night at San Mames for the visitors.

Barca are out of the LaLiga title reckoning.

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And Europa League playoff opponents Napoli will surely fancy their chances of taking the Blaugrana’s scalp on this latest evidence.

The defeat in Bilbao, where home captain Iker Muniain capped an inspiring performance with two goals.

It means Barcelona have failed to reach at least the quarter-final stage of the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2009-10.

This is also the first season since 2003-04, when they were in the UEFA Cup, that Barcelona has not featured in the Champions League knockout rounds. A group-stage exit saw to that.

“In summary, I think Athletic’s intensity surpassed ours,” said Xavi.

“In duels, in second balls. They lived each ball as if it were their last.”

Athletic led through Muniain and Inigo Martinez, but Ferran Torres, with his first Barcelona goal.

And Pedri, deep into stoppage time, replied for Barcelona.

A handball by Jordi Alba was punished by Muniain from the penalty spot near the end of the first half of extra time, and this time Athletic did not relinquish their lead.

Speaking at a post-match news conference. Muniain’s penalty told the coach differently, however.

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“With Pedri’s goal it seemed like it was our moment,” Xavi said.

“It seems that when things are heads or tails, We always get tails. We have to change the dynamic,” Xavi added.

Speaking to Barca TV, Xavi said:

“We need to continue believing in this project, continue in LaLiga and continue in the Europa League. This is the way, continue to keep going and working hard.”

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