Setien: Barca ‘can still win Champions League’

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in action with Osasuna’s Pervis Estupinan as play resumes behind closed doors following the COVID-19 outbreak. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 18 July 2020

Setien: Barca ‘can still win Champions League’

  • Coach says he doesn’t feel undermined by Lionel Messi’s damning review of Barcelona’s season

MADRID: Quique Setien said on Saturday he does not feel undermined by Lionel Messi’s damning review of Barcelona’s season and insists they can still win the Champions League.

Barca surrendered the La Liga title to Real Madrid on Thursday by losing at home to Osasuna and after the match, Messi vented his frustration, saying the team has been “weak,” “inconsistent” and “lacking in desire.”

Messi added that unless there was “a lot of change” the team would lose to Napoli as well next month in the Champions League, comments some have taken as a shot at his coach.

But Setien maintains he has no problem with Messi’s assessment.

“Not at all, I think in certain moments we all say things that can be taken badly,” said Setien, ahead of Barcelona’s final league game of the season on Sunday away at Alaves.

“I don’t give it much importance. The feeling I get is we are absolutely aware that we have a very important competition to come and we want to reach the final and win it.”

Barca face a second leg at home against Napoli in the last 16, with the tie in the balance after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

The winner will play Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, assuming they finish the job against Chelsea.

“We have to improve in some areas but you can’t convince me everything has been a disaster, it hasn’t,” said Setien.

“We have to be more consistent, more reliable. If we manage to have a game like the one we played against Villarreal, where everything went well, it will undoubtedly give us a chance to win the Champions League.”

Setien said he and the players held a meeting on Friday and admitted there had been disagreements.

“There are things on which we agree and other things that we don’t, that’s normal,” he said.

“Everyone’s concern is to improve the team. We are trying to find solutions so things change and that is what the meeting was all about, preparing for the future with optimism.”

But Setien’s position is already unstable, with failure in the Champions League likely to prompt another change after Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January.

Barcelona could finish the season without a trophy for the first time in 12 years.

Asked if he had thought about resigning, Setien said: “I always knew things were not going to be easy. At no time have I had the feeling of really wanting to leave.”

Setien has named only 16 players in the squad for the game against Alaves, including three goalkeepers, meaning he can only make three outfield substitutions.

Arthur Melo, who has agreed to join Juventus next season, is unavailable after he reported an ankle injury.


Hazard stunner gives revived Real Madrid win over Huesca

Updated 01 November 2020

Hazard stunner gives revived Real Madrid win over Huesca

  • Belgian forward ends goal drought as he thrills fans with brilliant first-half strike

MADRID: Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid in over a year and his team appeared to turn a corner as they beat newly promoted Huesca 4-1 in La Liga on Saturday.
Hazard has had a terrible time with injuries since joining Madrid for €100 million ($113 million) from Chelsea in 2019 but the Belgian will hope his stunning strike from distance at the Alfredo di Stefano can kick-start his career in Spain.

Karim Benzema and Fede Valverde made the win secure before Huesca scored through David Ferreiro, only for Benzema to add his second and Madrid’s fourth in injury-time.

Zinedine Zidane’s side jump above Real Sociedad to the top of the table to cap an encouraging week, which began with a Clasico win over Barcelona at Camp Nou and finishes with them moving nine points clear of the Catalans, who were playing away at Alaves on Saturday.

In between, Madrid came too close for comfort to another damaging defeat in the Champions League but two late goals salvaged a draw at Borussia Monchengladbach that in the end felt like a win.

Huesca, who are yet to win this season, might feel the scoreline was harsh after they squandered early chances.

Madrid will hope the dip that put Zidane under pressure earlier this month is over.

Zidane will have been particularly delighted with Hazard, whose goal was his first for Madrid since he scored against Granada in October last year, and his second overall in La Liga.

Ankle surgery kept Hazard out for the majority of last season and he was not fit for the start of this one, with Madrid only describing his latest setback as a “muscle injury.”

But he made his first appearance off the bench in the Champions League in midweek and against Huesca marked his first start with a brilliant goal in the first half.

Until then, Huesca had been the better team but Hazard’s strike turned the contest in the 40th minute, when he received the ball on the half-turn and swerved a superb shot into the corner from 30 yards out.

Benzema made it two, chesting down Lucas Vazquez’s cross at the back post and driving in, before Valverde struck a sweet half-volley into the corner.

Ferreiro gave Huesca brief hope with 16 minutes left but Madrid were never overly troubled and Benzema rounded off the win in injury-time, converting a smart header back from Rodrygo.