Luis Suarez accused Barcelona of defending like kids and apologised to supporters after the Spanish champions collapsed to a humiliating 4-0 defeat against Liverpool as they were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum both scored twice as Liverpool recovered from a three-goal defeat at Camp Nou last week to reach the Champions League final for a second season running thanks to a 4-3 aggregate win.
Substitute Wijnaldum scored twice in two minutes at the start of the second half before Origi added the winner in front of the Kop at Anfield when Barca switched off at a corner.
“It is inconceivable that we, Barcelona, concede two goals in just over a minute,” Suarez told reporters. “We defended like kids for the fourth goal.”
It’s the second time in two seasons that the Catalans have given up a three-goal advantage in the Champions League. Last season they lost 3-0 to Roma after winning the first leg 4-1.
Suarez, who on his return to Liverpool was jeered and told to ‘f— off’ by supporters that used to idolise him, said the players must be prepared for the criticism which will come their way in the coming weeks.
“We have to be really self-critical about what happened,” he added. “It’s the second time this has happened. We can’t commit the same mistakes two years running. There are a lot of things to evaluate and to think about.
“We have to apologise for our attitude and we must be conscious that the criticism is going to rain down on us now. We’re really upset, we’re hurting a lot. We’re humans and we feel the pain.”
Coach Ernesto Valverde, who was made to carry the buck for last season’s loss to Roma, also apologised to Barca’s supporters.
“We’re really sorry to the fans,” he said in his postgame news conference. “We play to make them proud of us. Everyone expects us to win all the time but we have lost — and in a very painful way.
“This is the first game we have lost in the Champions League this season but we are out because of it. The players are the ones that play on the pitch and they are hurting more than anyone.
“The most painful thing is to repeat [what happened in Rome]. It happened last season and it has happened again. But when you lose 4-0 you can’t have any excuses. They were better than us and we have to accept it.”
Despite winning back-to-back league titles since taking charge in 2017 — and with the possibility of a second domestic double still on the cards — Valverde’s future may come under the microscope once again following one of the worst losses in Barca’s history.
“I don’t know how this affects my future,” the coach added. “We haven’t had time to think about those things. But here we are and the coach has to take responsibility.”
Valverde only signed a contract extension earlier this year but president Josep Maria Bartomeu wasn’t prepared to back his manager after the harrowing defeat at Anfield. Instead, he called for the focus to be on the Copa del Rey final against Valencia on May 25.
“We’re in the heat of the moment after the loss,” he told reporters when asked about Valverde’s long-term future on the Camp Nou bench. “Now we have to pick everyone up and get back on track because we still have a cup final to play.
“There are going to be some difficult days ahead, but we have to go again. There will be time to reflect on what went wrong and explain things. There’s a cup final to play in three weeks. The same happened in Rome last year. It’s tough to explain. We will do it internally.