Gerardo Martino and Carles Puyol demand more intensity from Barcelona following shock defeat to Ajax

The Spanish champions lost 2-1 in Amsterdam

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino and captain Carles Puyol have demanded more intensity from the players after Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League defeat at Ajax Amsterdam.

The Group H reverse was Barca's first loss this season in all competitions - and their first under Martino - which cost them a chance to seal the top spot, having already secured their place in the last 16.

A fired-up Ajax, roared on by their vocal fans, took the game to an injury-hit Barca in the first half, harrying and hassling them before taking a deserved 2-0 lead with goals from Thulani Serero and Danny Hoesen.

Although the Spanish champions dominated after Ajax were reduced to 10 men shortly after halftime and pulled a goal back through Xavi's penalty, they struggled against a home defence well drilled by coach and former Barca player Frank de Boer.

"Ajax began with more intensity than us and we paid the price," Martino, who took over from the ailing Tito Vilanova in the close season, said at a news conference.

"The second half was a different story and we played in a way more in tune with what Barca represents," the Argentine added.

"The problems in the first half came more when we had the ball than when we didn't.

"We lacked mobility and precision. In a Champions League match against a rival who is fighting to qualify for the next round you need intensity for the full 90 minutes."

Barca have another chance to seal the top spot in the group when they host Celtic on Dec. 11. The Scottish champions lost 3-0 at home to AC Milan on Tuesday and are bottom of the group on three points from five games.

Barca have 10, Milan are second on eight and Ajax, whose final game is against the Italians at the San Siro, seven.

LETHARGIC START

Puyol said the team would have no chance of adding to their four European crowns if they started every match so lethargically.

"The idea is to have possession of the ball but when you are up against a team that also knows how to play and is full of fight this is what happens," he told reporters.

"If you do not have enough intensity they will roll right over you.

"You have to gain experience from all your matches and if we want to win titles we have to improve."

Puyol's defensive partner Gerard Pique said it was Barca's worst first-half performance of the season.

"We played very badly and we were lacking in commitment," added the Spain international.

"In the second half, although we improved, we did not create enough chances to get the second goal.

"They can score a goal or dominate during certain periods but what happened in the first half cannot be allowed to happen. That is not the image of FC Barcelona."

Barca's next match is at La Liga rivals Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, when they will be seeking a 14th win in 15 matches but will again be without World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who are both injured.

The Spanish champions, unbeaten in La Liga, have a three-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid. The only points they have dropped were in a 0-0 draw at Osasuna last month.

Reuters

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone