Barcelona president refuses to blame Lionel Messi for Barcelona defeat

 

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has refused to blame Lionel Messi for their Champions League exit, instead expressing his pride at the Catalans' performance against Chelsea.

The holders looked on course to overturn their 1-0 semi-final first-leg defeat when they took a 2-0 lead at the Nou Camp, with Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta scoring either side of captain John Terry's dismissal for kneeing Alexis Sanchez.

However, Ramires clawed a goal back for the Blues in first-half stoppage time and, after weathering the proverbial storm, Fernando Torres came off the bench to wrap up victory late on.

Messi missed a penalty and hit the post as Barca pressed in the second half, but Rosell does not blame the diminutive attacker for their exit.

"I do not think Barca has been knocked out by Messi's penalty," he said.

"After 180 minutes we had many occasions and they took three of theirs. That's what happened.

"The way we play is taught in la Masia and is not going to change.

"Football is a game. Sometimes you win and sometimes not. We win and lose.

"I think every time we've had a setback against this season it has been unfair, but opposing teams play well against us and we must accept it.

"Despite failing to qualify for the final and having had a bad week, the fans have been supporting us.

"I am very proud of them. I'm not happy with the result but I am proud."

Cesc Fabregas also left the match with an overriding sense of pride, albeit a sensation tainted by what he feels was an undeserved Champions League exit.

"It's a painful way to go out because we were superior," he told the club's official website, www.fcbarcelona.com.

"The result in Stamford Bridge is what did us in.

"We played a great game, we dominated and we created a lot of chances. We didn't sacrifice our style.

"It's painful to be eliminated this way, seeing that we had a lot of chances to score.

"It's a very hard blow. We have to hold our heads high. [Next year] we'll have the chance to do important things."

Dani Alves echoed his team-mate's sentiments, adding: "We tried in every way, but the approach they took, playing ultra-defensively, worked well.

"We had opportunities to take the tie forward and we failed.

"I think this team is great and once again we have to show how big we are.

"We suffer and hurt like hell, but it is a profession in which there are wins and losses, not only happy moments."

While Barcelona players were all left hurting emotionally, defender Gerard Pique also had to deal with physical pain after last night's semi-final.

The Spain international was involved in a horrific collision with goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who came storming off his line to punch the ball away under pressure from Didier Drogba and took out his own player in the process.

After trying to play on, Pique was substituted and taken to hospital with suspected concussion and, despite being released this morning, will rest for a week before being re-assessed.

The 25-year-old was a key component in Barca's 3-4-3 formation before his substitution, which left Carles Puyol as the only recognised central defender in the side.

Manager Pep Guardiola admitted he may have to alter the way they attack in the future, which goalscorer Iniesta agrees with.

"Football has not been fair in this tie," he told Barca TV. "The tactics we used penalised us.

"We play as we do because we are passionate about our profession and for those fans that are behind us and suffer.

"We will return to be there [in the final]."

PA

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