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1:29pm – Busquets not deterred by unbeaten record in La Liga coming to an end
Even though Barcelona have lost their unbeaten run in La Liga, Sergio Busquets insists the Catalan club have had a successful campaign.
The Blaugrana fell in a 5-4 defeat to Levante on Sunday to suffer their first league loss of the season.
Busquets said afterward: “It’s obvious that we wanted to finish this season unbeaten but everything that we’ve done up until now was of merit.”
11:47am – Valverde gives credit to Levante rather than blaming defence
Barcelona’s unbeaten La Liga record is no more after they fell to Levante 5-4 on Sunday, ending their bid for a historic campaign.
“Yerry Mina showed personality at certain moments of the match and I haven’t seen him make a mistake, you have to take into account how good our opponent was,” Valverde said.
He also said Vermaelen had been struggling with an injury, adding: “I substituted Vermaelen because I didn’t want him to be at even further risk.”
Ernesto Valverde has guided his side to a domestic double with La Liga recaptured and a fourth straight Copa del Rey triumph.
However, the Blaugrana were two games away from the Spanish top flight’s first unbeaten campaign only to fall at the penultimate hurdle in a 5-4 defeat at Levante.
The season has also been overshadowed by the Champions League quarter-final exit to Roma but Busquets is adamant it’s been a successful year.
“It’s obvious that we wanted to finish this season unbeaten but everything that we’ve done up until now was of merit,” the Spanish midfielder said post-match.
“It’s a shame that we’ve lost. They caught us on the counter attack and were quick. We made little lapses of concentration and it’s really difficult when you have to overturn a lead like 5-1.
“We were pushing, we were working, we used lots of energy. We had chances to draw but it wasn’t our night, it wasn’t to be. When you chuck away five goals it’s hard to haul it back.
“Our performances have been absolutely unreal all season. We should be proud of it and we’re still proud of it.
“We’ve got one more game. We’ll celebrate the title at Camp Nou with our fans.”
The hosts stormed into a 5-1 lead 11 minutes into the second half, with Barca’s centre-back pairing of Thomas Vermaelen and Yerry Mina in disarray.
Ghanaian Emmanuel Boateng plundered a hat-trick and Enis Bardhi struck twice before Phillippe Coutinho inspired a fightback by helping himself to three goals, with Luis Suarez claiming the fourth from the spot.
“We haven’t been solid, every time they attacked they scored,” Valverde said in quotes reported by Marca.
“It’s not normal for us to concede five goals. Levante have played well with freedom and we haven’t been able to control them.
“We went to sleep, thinking we could automatically lift our performance in the second half.
“Yerry Mina showed personality at certain moments of the match and I haven’t seen him make a mistake, you have to take into account how good our opponent was.”
Valverde said Belgian Vermaelen had been struggling with an injury, adding: “I substituted Vermaelen because I didn’t want him to be at even further risk.”
Skipper Andres Iniesta blamed a lack of organisation.
“We were excited by the prospect of finishing the season unbeaten,” he said.
“It’s not the most important thing this season – it just wasn’t to be.
“Above all, it was the tension and lack of organisation. This was especially clear at the beginning of the second half.
“They’ve been very effective on the counter-attack and have caught us out.”
— FC Barcelona 🏆🏆 (@FCBarcelona) May 13, 2018
The season-ending game against Real Sociedad will be the 34-year-old’s last as a Barcelona player.
“With every moment that it approaches, everything becomes that little bit more difficult,” the midfielder added.
“I will try to savour it, it’s the last game of the season and the fans will respond to support the team.
“I hope it will be a nice memory for me after so long.”