FC Barcelona were thrown a lifeline last night against Athletic when the Catalans scored twice in succession to beat the team from Bilbao 2-1. Suggestions that Messi is out of form were also quashed last night as the little Argentine ran his heart out and scored the winner.
The win last night means that the Catalan giants still remain four points adrift of leaders Atlético Madrid but at least it keeps them in the fight and within a chance if they slip up.
If Atlético win their remaining games then all is lost but midfielder Xavi says his team has to now focus on results to be in with a chance.
Spanish newspaper AS reports Xavi as saying: “We need to work, run, fight and win to try and reverse the situation.”
“It’s not up to us but we know we have to do our job, win all four remaining games.”
“We knew the importance of Sunday’s game and knowing you don’t depend on yourself, it’s important to win and to hope.”
“Overall we did well in defence and attack. But it still hurts to be eliminated from the Champions League and lose the Cup final.”
Xavi also spoke about how much people ask of Leo Messi and said that he was the one who decided last night’s game. “Much of the time too much is asked of him. People should leave him alone and let him work,” said Xavi.
Coach Gerardo Martino also offered some light on Messi’s form: “It has to be considered how our rivals play against us. This is a problem Barca has had for a long time,” said Martino.
“When teams defend with many players near the penalty area, it’s an uphill battle.”
Athletic Bilbao Coach Ernesto Valverde was asked about the possibility of coaching the Catalans next season: “Is my staying here negotiable? I’m flattered by the comments,” Valverde admitted.
“On whether it’s negotiable or not, I have a contract with Athletic and I’m comfortable here.”