Xavi has told Barcelona they have “five finals” to play as they attempt to banish their April blues and make sure of a Champions League place.
A third home defeat in a row left second-placed Barcelona with 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who are due to wrap up the LaLiga title on Saturday, simply needing to avoid losing to Espanyol to secure it.
While Barcelona’s biggest rivals will be happy, there is a lot of work to be done by coach Xavi after his Blaugrana side were beaten 1-0 at home by Rayo Vallecano, who finished the league game twice over the Catalan bulls.
Andoni Iraola became the first manager to beat Barcelona at home and away in his first LaLiga season since Quique Hernandez did so in Hercules in the 1996-97 season.
Alvaro Garcia scored the only goal Vallecano shot had taken all night, and luckily Barcelona could have enjoyed a better result, but they are all out of luck at the moment.
Europa League defeats at Eintracht Frankfurt and LaLiga defeats to Cadiz and now Vallecano have been unexpected challenges for the top team five weeks ago when they beat Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Examining Vallecano’s decline and its impact, Xavi said: “I do not think it is a lack of character in the team. There are emergencies at the club, in football and financially. It is a difficult and emergency situation.
“Now it’s time to take a break, cut it off and in the middle of the week we will be back to prepare for the Mallorca game. With five games left in the final, we are confused.”
Barcelona still have to finish in the top four, as long as they are six points adrift of fifth-placed Real Betis, but Xavi wants more than just seeing his team stumble along the line.
Their goal is to finish the season strong and build momentum in the next campaign, with Sunday’s game hampering the progress that has been made since Xavi’s appointment in November.
Speaking to the Movie LaLiga, Xavi said: “In the first half we were not good, but in the second we improved, and the feeling was that we deserved more.
“In the first half it was us, we didn’t have the personality we should have in the game. It was all weird today. It was a slow, disruptive game.”
He said Barcelona needed to show great ambition, and pointed out how Sunday’s visitors used their great moment in front of goal.
Three shots Rayo Vallecano tried to set them as the lowest number in the LaLiga game this season.
“Rayo got one and a half chances,” said Xavi. “We return to the issue of efficiency.
“We are in a difficult situation. We are in the top of the Champions League but we are confused because if we had beaten Cadiz and Rayo it would have almost given us a chance to get into the Champions League.”