Luis Enrique is worried about Barcelona.
The Asturian manager spoke to the press following Wednesday's 2-0 loss against Atlético Madrid at Vicente Calderón, which knocked the reigning champions out of the competition in the quarterfinal stage. For the fifth consecutive game, Barça had a bad performance, a worrying sign as we reach the end of the season with the Catalans still alive in two competitions.
Enrique's message is clear: the near future does not look bright unless the team finds a way to regain their best form in the final matches of La Liga and the Spanish Cup.
"I congratulate Atlético, they were better than us. Our objectives are always the highest. We are proud that Barcelona always aim to win everything. But we must accept this result and try to improve. We have two competitions left now, with a great chance to win them. They are two attractive goals to aim for. For any other coach in world, winning those two would be enough. But we must improve."
Luis Enrique, source: UEFA.com
When asked specifically about the game against Atlético, Lucho was also clear: the performance from his players was not up to the usual standards, and the opponents deservedly won the game and the semifinal spot.
"It was the game we predicted, although perhaps I didn't expect Atlético to play so deep. It wasn't our best performance: we weren't sharp enough and we struggled to create chances. We really wanted to go further in this competition and rise to the challenge [of defending the title] but we congratulate Atlético Madrid.
"The first half was quite quiet really. They played their way, waiting for us and trying to score [on the break]. It's obvious we aren't at our best at the moment, especially if you consider the level we have been playing at this season. But that's football. We need to lift ourselves now.
"The players wanted to retain the trophy, the fans too, but today it was not to be. We are sad, of course. I expected Atlético to attack more. We weren't under pressure; we had the ball and controlled the game. They wanted to take one of their few chances, and they took advantage of our mistake to go in front. Then they did what they do best – defend in their own half. They did that very well and delivered a complete performance.
"We lacked a bit of cleverness. We wanted a controlled game, not end-to-end stuff. It wasn't a game for flicks and tricks. We didn't create enough dangerous situations, as we knew a goal would be very important. We had control but without much of a threat. In the second half we put more people in front of the ball and created opportunities, yet we still found it difficult."