Xavi blames 'defensive mistakes' as Barcelona face 'cruel' Champions League group exit

Barca played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Inter Milan which takes their destiny out of their hands

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Xavi said "serious defensive mistakes" were to blame for Barcelona's 3-3 draw with Inter Milan on Wednesday night, which leaves his side on the brink of another Champions League group-stage exit.

In a thrilling match at Camp Nou, Barca twice cancelled out Inter leads having broken the deadlock through Ousmane Dembele in the 40th minute. Nicolo Barella levelled for Inter five minutes after the break and Lautaro Martinez gave the visitors the lead midway through the half.

Robert Lewandowski pulled Barcelona level, before Robin Gosens made it 3-2 to Inter at the end of normal time. But there was still time for more late drama as Lewandowski grabbed his second and earned Barca a point.

However, the result does little favours for Barca's hopes of avoiding a second successive group stage exit. The Catalans, third in Group C and three points behind second-placed Inter, need bottom side Viktoria Plzen to avoid defeat against the Italians next time out while also ensuring they beat leaders Bayern Munich.

“We don’t depend on ourselves and the Champions League is very complicated," Barca manager Xavi said. "Football is a game of mistakes and we have to minimise them. In Munich it was effectiveness, in Milan other circumstances and tonight it was defensive mistakes.”

Xavi took charge at Barca last November with the team on the verge of being eliminated from their Champions League group. That exit was confirmed in one of Xavi's first games with defeat to Bayern, and once again the German champions are involved in Barca's hopes of keeping their campaign alive.

“The truth is that this Champions League is being cruel to us. From Munich, through Milan and tonight, we deserved more,” Xavi said.

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“The first half was excellent, we only conceded a chance to [Edin] Dzeko, we went into the break satisfied, but we conceded too much in the second half, we made serious defensive mistakes that are very expensive in the Champions League. It’s not just about attacking, it’s also about defending.”

In contrast to their European struggles, albeit admittedly in a tough group, Barcelona are in fine form domestically, sitting joint-top of La Liga alongside rivals Real Madrid having won seven and drawing one of their opening eight games.

Indeed, Barca's next assignment is the first Clasico of the season with a trip to Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Updated: October 13, 2022, 5:51 AM
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