Luis Enrique was left frustrated with Barcelona’s wastefulness in front of goal as they came up short in their bid to overturn a three-goal deficit against Juventus, held to a goalless draw and exiting the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage for a second consecutive year.
Juve have conceded just two goals in Europe this season but the Barca coach had confidently insisted before the game that his side could score five times at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
They created enough chances to score five, too, but their accuracy was lacking. Lionel Messi missed a string of opportunities as just one of their shots registered on target, leading to a comfortable night for Gianluigi Buffon in the Juve goal.
“Juve concede a lot of chances, even though they don’t let in many goals,” Luis Enrique said in his postgame news conference when asked if he genuinely believed the Blaugrana could score five against the Italian champions. “We had chances to have scored 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.”
Despite the disappointment of another European exit, Luis Enrique conceded the better side over the two legs had progressed.
“Juve deserved to go through,” he added. “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.
[It was lost] in Turin. I will remember that first half there forever and ever … 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.”
A few supporters left early on Wednesday but the majority stayed to the end, chanting proudly, which Luis Enrique suggested was the least his players deserved.
“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,” the Barca boss 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.”
Things don’t get any easier, with a trip to Real Madrid to come on Sunday, where a defeat would leave Barca six points behind their title rivals having played a game more.
“Picking youself up after a defeat like this is hard, but we have the best motivation a Cule can have,” Luis Enrique said, “which is visit the home of our eternal rival — there’s no better place than to go to than the Bernabeu.
It will be as special as ever and it’s a marvellous stimulus: a key game against the leader, a direct opponent. We have to get ready and compete and I am sure we will do that.”