Xavi: Congratulations to Athletic, they were more intense

The Barcelona coach could not complain about the outcome of Thursday's game

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Ferran Correas

Barcelona saw another trophy slip past them at San Mames. If last week they were knocked out of the Supercopa, this week it was the Copa del Rey as they lost 3-2 to Athletic Club after extra time.

Coach Xavi Hernandez was sad after the game and admitted Athletic were better than Barça.

"They beat us because of their intensity," Xavi said. "We didn't control the game. We were not comfortable in the game, so congratulations to Athletic because they showed unbelievable intensity. You have to win your duels, the second balls, set plays...

"Athletic were excellent, well organised. I think they played really well. We struggled to progress up the pitch. We tried. They defended with such intensity. They were better in the duels. They were strong. We fought until the end but we're out of the cup.

"We're experiencing some tough days but there's nothing for it but to work hard and believe in the project. We have to pick ourselves up from the Supercopa defeat and this one. Two tough defeats but we have to think about LaLiga and the Europa League."

Xavi explained that his team were "unable to impose our game. We lacked patience. When we were in their half, we created things, not much, but we have to keep working to be better, like in Ferran Torres' goal."

Despite everything, Xavi didn't feel the loss was a failure, adding: "I don't like the word failure because we tried. But if we have failed here then let it be something to learn from. We learn from our mistakes and try again.

"We have two battles left: Europa League and LaLiga. We fought until the end but in many moments Athletic bettered us with intensity, they were better than us, have to congratulate them. San Mames is tough, especially with this Athletic and this coach."

ANSU FATI

On injuries, Xavi said: "We're going to see how Ansu Fati is tomorrow. I saw he was really affected, but we will see after tests. There ar ohers with some discomfort as well, Jordi, Gerard, Pedri."

Xavi also spoke about Ousmane Dembele's absence: "I don't think Dembele's situation had an effect. He is an important player for us but it's a decision taken by the club, we don't make decisions unilaterally. I think I explained the situation well yesterday."  

And on Jordi Alba's tough night, he finished: "Jordi, like all the defenders, with players like Nico and Inaki Williams, Raul Garcia, Sancet, players that generate a lot of danger counters, transitions... (It was) not just Jordi, the whole team has suffered.

"I wouldn't single out Jordi. He made a huge effort, played with some discomfort in his hamstring showing an impeccable attitude. We have all suffered, the team, not Jordi Alba."   

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