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La Liga

Xavi fumes at Barca missing ‘golden opportunity’

Barcelona coach Xavi was left seething after his side missed a “golden opportunity” to move clear in second place in LaLiga.

Having been eliminated from the Europa League on home soil by Eintracht Frankfurt last Thursday, Barca lost consecutive games at Camp Nou for the first time since April 2003 as lowly Cadiz condemned them to a 1-0 defeat.

Lucas Perez’s second-half winner marked the 32nd goal Barca has conceded in 31 league games this season, their worst tally since the 2012-13 campaign (33).

Barca’s 15-match unbeaten run in the league had seen them harbour hopes of a title challenge.

But they now have just seven games left to catch Real Madrid, who are 15 points clear.

Indeed, Barca’s primary focus will now realistically be on the teams below them. Atletico Madrid and Sevilla sit on 60 points, as the Blaugrana, but Real Betis (57) and Real Sociedad (55) are not far behind.

Xavi told reporters:

“We’re p***** off.

“We have lost a golden opportunity to distance ourselves from the Champions League fight.

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“And continue in the battle for the title. We have almost said goodbye to LaLiga.

“We are Barca, and we must do more. The team should have shown more desire and enthusiasm.

“It’s not about attitude because the players want it, but we need a competitive character.

“They [Cadiz] defended the play as if it were the last, and we have to match that.

“We have to be humble and think that we haven’t done anything. Then, next year, we have to play with more faith, determination and drive to be in the Champions League. We have to grit our teeth because we’ve got a lot at stake.”

Despite overseeing a dramatic upturn in fortunes since taking charge, Xavi said the defeat showed we required much work for Barca to return to the level of his playing days.

He added:

“When you win 4-0 at the Bernabeu, it’s logical that you say, ‘we’re back, but now we’re also making mistakes.

“We must be self-critical, and we must react to ensure the goal of Champions League [qualification].

“We have to work for the great Barca to come back. And we beat Madrid and Sevilla in two great games with the same team and staff. We can do it again if we’ve done it [before].”

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Barcelona played the game in a muted atmosphere after prominent Blaugrana fans boycotted in protest at the club’s handling of last week’s loss to Frankfurt. However, an estimated 30,000 away fans got tickets to the match.

“We need the people,” Xavi said. “The other day, it affected us a lot. The fans have been extraordinary.

“Hopefully, the next game, they will be with us. Barcelona must unite and go to the Champions League next year. It’s a shame they didn’t come. We need everyone. The three points must stay here in the next game at home.”

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