Defeat is a word that seldom features in the FC Barcelona lexicon yet Josep Guardiola's charges were not afraid to mention it after Tuesday's 3-1 semi-final first-leg loss against FC Internazionale Milano.
Not only was the San Siro setback the fourth reverse of Barcelona's campaign across all competitions, it was also the heaviest defeat of coach Guardiola's two-season reign. Rather than look for excuses, though, the Blaugrana players accepted the outcome in favour of Inter while expressing confidence that their Italian rivals can yet be overcome in next Wednesday's return match at Camp Nou.
Goalscorer Pedro Rodríguez, midfielder Sergio Busquets and right-back Daniel Alves presented a united front in telling UEFA.com that this tie can still be won.
"We started well and were dominating, but then Inter came out of their shells and got their goals, and in the end that was enough," said Pedro. "But we have to stay cool and concentrate on what will be a very tough second leg. We have to come back from this, motivation won't be a problem, and with our fans behind us I think we can do it."
The homegrown forward had temporarily silenced the noisy Interistas when he broke the deadlock after 19 minutes – "it was great play down the wing [from Maxwell] and I managed to get myself into the right position to score from his ball across". However, even after the retaliatory strikes from Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito that decided the contest, he remained firm in his opinion that "we'll bounce back".
Busquets, another academy product, repeated the revivalist mantra when he said: "It wasn't the result we wanted but we have home advantage in the second leg and can win the tie – we've done it before. We had the control and the possession but they carried a threat on the break and scored from a couple of chances after half-time." Indeed, it was between Maicon and Milito's second-half goals that Busquets nearly equalised at 2-2, but his header from a corner was denied by the reflexes of Júlio César.
I don't think it was a fair result, I don't think there was a two-goal difference between the teams," continued the anchorman. "We played well at times, and in other moments it was clear Inter are a great team with great players. We just have to get on with the job. We are confident we can progress."
Alves accentuated the positives too, having been reminded that Barça have already beaten the Italian titleholders 2-0 at home in the UEFA Champions League this term. A repeat of that group-stage scoreline would send the Catalans to the final in Madrid, and their marauding full-back said: "
We have no choice but to go for it. They have the advantage but there are still 90 minutes for us to change all that."
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