Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde spoke to the media after his team signed off their home La Liga campaign with a 2-0 victory over Getafe, whose hopes of a maiden top-four finish are now out of their hands.
The result sees Barca end in marginally better spirits a miserable week which saw them being knocked out of the Champions League after losing 4-0 to Liverpool in the semi-final second-leg, a defeat that has led to intense speculation as to whether the boss and a host of senior players will still be at the club next season.
The 55-year-old was quizzed post-match about his reaction to resignation rumours and a negative reaction from supporters.
The win does little to ease the pain of last week’s Champions League semi-final exit to Liverpool, but Barca did turn out a determined display.
Boss Ernesto Valverde can take some heart from the win, even if the low turnout the Camp Nou suggests the supporters did not.
Here’s the key talking points from Sunday’s encounter.
COUTINHO’S BARCELONA CAREER OVER?
Perhaps it was the emptiness of the stadium which amplified the discontent, but never has whistling sounded quite so piercing.
Philippe Coutinho must have mistaken this for an away fixture because literally every touch of the Brazilian’s in the first half received a poisonous response from the Barca fans.
These are testing times at the club right now and it seems the discontent is being pounded into the chest of Coutinho.
In many ways it’s heartbreaking viewing. This is a player hallmarked by instinctive destruction. He’s spent the vast part of his Barcelona career guessing, and very often incorrectly.
But is it any surprise? With Liverpool, Coutinho was the creative fulcrum, the player designated to find the killer pass or produce the stunning finish.
At Barcelona, his role is not to find goal or make an assist, but to route the ball to Lionel Messi to do that job, his previous vocation.
Coutinho’s game is about balance, and at Barcelona, he’s been unsteady. Indeed, how many times have we seen him produce his signature goal, cutting in from the left and vaporising the ball with virtually no backlift? Not often.
Upon his departure, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp warned Coutinho at clubs like Barcelona, he’s “just another player”.
Coutinho has become worse than that, though, because the record fee means he cannot hide like any other player.
Short and sour, his Barcelona career is surely over.
BUSQUETS POOR AGAIN
One player who should not escape criticism this season, and most definitely will be at risk in 2019/20 is Sergio Busquets.
This was another performance in which he repeatedly steered the ball into danger. The 30-year-old seems to dodge the ire of Barca fans perhaps because of his La Masia roots, but he cannot escape decline.
This was not a dire display in isolation. His entire campaign has been littered with inefficiency. Busquets was once the best No6 on the planet, but in the age of athletes, he’s simply being swallowed up and now spits the ball out inaccurately.
Frenkie de Jong arrives from Ajax in the summer, the Barcelona revolution begins with the evolution of the player operating at the base of midfield.
WINS WON’T REPAIR THE DAMAGE
When the teamsheet was released on social media virtually all the replies followed a similar theme – Valverde out.
Now, the echo chamber of Twitter is hardly the most accurate platform to gauge fan feeling, but there’s no doubting Valverde will be fortunate to survive the summer.
The Basque boss was adamant in the pre-match build-up he has the full support of the board and will be given the opportunity to oversee changes.
But realistically, how much time will the fans give him? Granted, this season isn’t over yet with the Copa del Rey final still to come.
Perhaps the narrative may shift again depending on that result but wins this season won’t repair the damage.
The team showed plenty of fight on Sunday and were determined to make a point in what was ultimately a pointless contest as far as they were concerned.
There’s a long way to go, though.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insists he is not about to “hide under a stone” as his team look to recover from their shock Champions League elimination by Liverpool.
The Spanish giants slumped to a 4-0 defeat at Anfield in the second leg of their semi-final on Tuesday night as the English club overcame a 3-0 deficit to progress against the odds.
With their European campaign now in tatters, the focus has turned to Valverde and the future direction of his team.
Valverde, though, remains defiant as he prepares to pick the players up for Sunday’s penultimate LaLiga fixture against Getafe and then for the Copa del Rey final.
“I feel strong, I’m good. I want to take the next step, I won’t hide under a stone,” Valverde said at a press conference.
“I feel like I’m in ‘The Great Escape’ – they have just caught me and I’m in the punishment cell, I want to play tomorrow’s match.
“After a blow like that, everything wobbles, we know what this show is like, if something like this happens you have to break and burn it all, but then you have to put it all back in its place.”
Valverde insists he has “complete support” of Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu as he aims to move the club forwards.
“We’re hurting, I won’t deny it, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our fans,” Valverde said, as quoted by Marca.
“We can lose a knockout tie, the problem is how we lost it – we weren’t good in the second half. It has been painful, there’s no other option but to look forwards and we have to take the next step.
“The bad outweighs the good because it’s the most recent, the defeat wasn’t 1-0, it was 4-0 and it matters at clubs like this, this group has the ability to excite people.”
Ivan Rakitic drew criticism for being pictured out at a local festival in Seville shortly after the Anfield defeat.
Valverde confirmed he had spoken with Rakitic over the issue. “He explained that he went to see his wife and children, he went out to the street and someone took a photo with him,” the Barcelona boss said.
“You have to go out to the street and accept the situation, (but) you can’t doubt his professionalism.”
Valverde hopes the Nou Camp faithful will get behind the team.
“We are all affected by the blow, but it’s the last game in our stadium and I consider it an opportunity to try to help the team and to lift them and not do what our enemies hope for, that we fight between ourselves,” he said.
“I know that it has been a hard blow for the fans, for the players, for us all – the best thing to do is face up to a rival to show your character and bounce back.”
Barcelona confirmed midfielder Arthur was to be assessed after missing training because of “discomfort in his pelvis”.
Striker Luis Suarez, meanwhile, remains optimistic about his recovery from keyhole surgery on a medial meniscus injury in his right knee.
“It will all be great, in a month I’ll be ready,” Suarez told Uruguayan media outlet El Pais de Montevideo. “It’s not the same injury as 2017, that was cartilage, and this is meniscus.”
Getafe hold a slender three-point cushion over Sevilla and Valencia in the battle for fourth spot.
Manager Pepe Bordalas believes no matter the outcome over the final two matches, this campaign has been one to remember for the Madrid club.
“Whatever happens, the team have played a commendable season. Months ago, no one thought we would be there,” Bordalas said.
Provided by Press Association Sport