While the FC Shakhtar Donetsk players left the Camp Nou bitterly disappointed by the margin of their 5-1 UEFA Champions League quarter-final defeat by FC Barcelona, there were still positives to take home with them on the long journey to Ukraine.
From coach Mircea Lucescu, right through the team to captain Darijo Srna, the visitors accepted that Barcelona hit exceptional heights on Wednesday, yet Shakhtar were proud to underline that they could have scored three or four themselves. Srna, who provided the free-kick for Yaroslav Rakitskiy to convert Shakhtar's only goal on the hour, feels his side were up against the greatest football unit ever.
"I predicted the match would be very difficult, because in my opinion Barcelona are the best team in football history," the full-back said. "They proved me right. However, I think we played better than we did [in losing 5-1] against Arsenal [FC] in London in the autumn, so we didn't deserve a 5-1 defeat.
"At this level it's very simple – we didn't take our chances and conceded goals at the other end," added the Croatian international. "I feel sorry for the lads because every player gave his all, but we still have the second leg. We will play better.
Everyone will do their best to beat Barcelona at home, although it will be difficult. My opinion is that Barcelona will win the Champions League for sure."
Goalscorer Rakitskiy shares coach Lucescu's view that Shakhtar will learn and improve from this chastening experience. "We had enough chances in the first half to be ahead by half-time," the Ukraine defender said. "Fortune favoured Barcelona, but the final score is our fault and it's down to a lack of concentration – we helped them score four goals. Now we will analyse our mistakes and attempt to show what we're made of in Donetsk. We need to win at home."
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