By Richard Martin
(Reuters) – Barcelona will not be knocked off course by their 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday despite being outplayed in the second half by Pep Guardiola’s fired-up side, the Catalan club’s manager Luis Enrique said.
The Spanish champions are second in La Liga two points behind arch rivals Real Madrid and face a testing game on Sunday at high-flying Sevilla, who are a point behind them, with Luis Enrique declaring they would not dwell on the City defeat.
“We have to get up and keep going. We never sit back when we win and we don’t sink when we lose. Defeats are everyone’s responsibility, above all the coach’s, and we’re going to keep getting better,” he said.
Barca suffered scathing criticism from the Catalan press for their collapse at the Etihad stadium, with the daily Sport declaring that “Barca got themselves into a twist” and “threw away a game that was half won, overpowered by City’s intensity”.
Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, likened Barca’s surrender in the second half, after they took an early lead, to a power cut.
Luis Enrique emphasised Barca’s domination of City for most of the first period, in which Lionel Messi scored, but conceded that they never recovered from Sergi Roberto’s misplaced pass which allowed Ilkay Guendogan to level before the break.
“This is how it is, this isn’t a drinks machine where you hit a button and a can of Coke comes out. If anyone turned their TV off after 40 minutes they wouldn’t have believed we lost the game,” the Barca boss said after their first Group C loss.
“We played scandalously well for 40 minutes but we committed a huge error that really harmed us. It was 40 minutes for us, 50 for them, and the result reflects how the game went. In games like this you always pay for your errors.”
Striker Luis Suarez added: “We’re aware of how well we played in the first half but… we have to be self critical because we did not play well in the second half.
“We have to take positive and negative conclusions from the game. Now we have to forget about the Champions League for a bit and think about Sevilla.”
Barca remain top of Group C on nine points, two ahead of City, and a win in one of their remaining games against Celtic or Borussia Moenchengladbach would see them qualify for the last 16, while four points will ensure they win the group.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)