Barcelona ‘deserved to draw based on everything we created’, insists Luis Enrique after Copa del Rey defeat

Catalans lose 2-1 in Copa del Rey first leg.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique looks on during his side's Copa del Rey last-16 first leg defeat to Athletic Bilbao. Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images
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Luis Enrique has said Barcelona deserved to draw their Copa del Rey first-leg last-16 meeting with nine-man Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.

The Catalans fell to a 2-1 defeat thanks to two early goals from Aritz Aduriz and Inaki Williams, with Lionel Messi slashing the deficit with a free-kick.

The cup holders were unable to capitalise on the dismissals of Raul Garcia and Ander Iturraspe and head back to the Nou Camp needing a victory in the return leg.

“Our goal gave us oxygen, and in the end we deserved to draw based on everything we created,” Enrique told fcbarcelona.es.

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“We just lacked that precise touch in the box.

“Athletic always know how to cause you problems with their pressing game. They took advantage of two bad moves from us and, after two quick raids, they’ve gone 2-0 up on the scoreboard.

“The first half ended in a bad way with there being loads of cards, even if we did manage to get into their area quite a lot. In the second half we changed it up and deserved more from the game, irrespective of the fact we had numerical superiority.

“The second leg will be difficult as we definitely have to score. Athletic sometimes force you to change the way you play and we will need to find a solution.

“Their pressing forces you to play fewer touches, to maintain position better, and to be more intense.”

Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde shared similar concerns about the Nou Camp fixture, telling Marca: "The tie is still quite open.

“It’s always difficult to play there and matches always seem to take forever.”

Referring back to Thursday night’s encounter, he said: “It’s not the first time that we’ve tried to put the high press on Barcelona in a bid to stop them.

“We took a hit when Messi scored that great goal and we had to start defending from deep.

“Our team started to tire and we’re lucky they didn’t manage to force another one in at the end.”

The second leg will take place on Wednesday, January 11.

* Press Association

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