Barcelona invested heavily to bolster their Champions League hopes, but will likely play Europa League football once again this season.
Xavi declared Barcelona “do not deserve” to progress in the UEFA Champions League after failing to beat Inter at home on Wednesday.
Robert Lewandowski has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season – only Erling Haaland has scored more in Europe’s top five leagues – with two late equalizers in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Inter.
The Poland striker first equalized after Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez had put Inter in front following Ousmane Dembele’s opener, before canceling out Robin Gosen’s 89th-minute strike three minutes later.
“If you don’t beat Inter at home, you don’t deserve to continue,” the Blaugrana head coach told reporters, with Inter needing just one win from their last two games to progress and eliminate Barca.
“It’s not up to us now, we don’t deserve to continue in the Champions League. It’s a hard blow, very hard. That word would be cruel.”
“If one or the other player makes a mistake as a manager, it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility when my players make mistakes.
“We had to stay focused and instead we went wrong on the pitch in the second half, but it remains the coach’s fault.
“You had to do more in front of such extraordinary supporters. I’m disappointed and this competition is cruel to us.”
The stalemate not only signaled the likely end of Barca’s Champions League campaign this season, but also the first time in six games that Inter have avoided defeat at the Blaugrana in the competition.
Barca veteran Sergio Busquets echoed Xavi’s sentiments, bemoaning the Blaugrana for failing to find success after investing heavily in the last transfer window to bring in the likes of Lewandowski and Raphinha.
“Disappointing. It was a difficult group but after all the signings we had to push for more,” said Busquets. “It’s not mathematically [impossible], but it’s very difficult.
“We weren’t that strong in areas and that’s what you pay for in the Champions League. It was head or tail and we didn’t do it in the second half.”
With Barca’s hopes hanging on the unlikely scenario of Inter losing against already-promoted Viktoria Plzen and Bayern Munich, Xavi must now turn his attention to Sunday’s clash with Real Madrid.
“We are thinking about [Real] Madrid [in Sunday’s] Clasico tomorrow, it will not be easy to win, but we have to think about the championship where we want to continue to be first in the standings.
“The season is long, because of our mistakes we didn’t give our best and that’s cruel. We have to keep going.”