Barcelona’s outgoing coach Luis Enrique said that Juventus deserved to go through to the Champions League semi-finals over his side after their first-leg performance. Barcelona were unable to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg in Turin, as they were shut out to a 0-0 draw by the Italian champions at Nou Camp in the second leg on Wednesday.
Enrique admitted that Barcelona had lost the tie in Turin itself. “I will remember that first half forever and ever,” he said, as reported by ESPN. “It’s sad, we weren’t at our level. In a competition like this you pay for that. So, sadly, I will remember it for a long time.”
This was the first time that Enrique had seen his team fail to win at Nou Camp in the Champions League in what would turn out to be his last match in the competition as Barcelona coach. Barcelona were undone by a resolute Juventus defence, which has conceded only two goals in the Champions League this season. However, Enrique felt his team should have still found a way to break through.
“Juve concede a lot of chances, even though they don’t let in many goals,” he said. “We had chances to score and with better effectiveness we should have scored a goal. We must have had 13, 14 shots and none on target, which is where you do damage.” Barcelona had as many as 17 attempts on the night, but only one of them was on target.
Enrique conceded that the better side had progressed to the semis. “Juve deserved to go through. They’re a team that know how to defend perfectly. We created enough chances to have done it, but it wasn’t to be. We kept going until the very last minute.”
The Spaniard also thanked the Barcelona supporters who stayed back till the end and chanted in support of their team, despite their exit. “What the fans did at the end was a homage to what this team has been, what it is ... a team that was going for every title, which has never relaxed and accepted every challenge,” he said. “It makes you feel proud to belong to a club of this magnitude. Now we have to focus on the two competitions we have.”
Barcelona need to recover quickly, as they travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday to take on arch-rivals Real Madrid in the La Liga. Barcelona are three points behind top-placed Madrid, having played a game more than their title rivals. The Catalan giants are also in the Copa del Rey final, where they will face Alaves on May 27.