Barcelona: Quique Setien insisted Barcelona have not lost their confidence, despite needing a dubious late penalty, converted by Lionel Messi, to scrape past Real Sociedad 1-0 on Saturday inside a frustrated Camp Nou.
Messi’s 24th goal of the season, and fifth in four games, was enough to save Barca, despite a drab display that threatened to bring more disappointment following last weekend’s loss against Real Madrid.
As tension grew inside Camp Nou, some of the home fans whistled to express their dissatisfaction, which Jordi Alba then seemed to confront when celebrating a late goal, ruled out for offside, by putting his fingers in his ears.
“We have not lost confidence in what we are doing,” said Setien. “The fans sometimes don’t expect the opposition to restrict you but you have to take into account that Real Sociedad are a great team.”
On his own reaction, Alba said: “I respect the fans but the fans have to respect me. Nobody likes to be whistled, and even less after 15 minutes at 0-0.”
Madrid drop to second in the table but can restore their one-point advantage at the top by winning away at struggling Real Betis on Sunday night.
Their Clasico victory at the Santiago Bernabeu put the pressure back on Barcelona, whose response was hardly resounding, with Setien’s side ultimately reliant on VAR to spot a handball in the 81st minute from Robin Le Normand.
The lack of appeal and the chunk of play that passed before VAR intervened made the decision all the more surprising and la Real’s players were still shaking their heads at the final whistle.
Yet the win was all-important for the Catalans at the end of another week dominated by headlines surrounding problems off the pitch.
Setien said he had apologised to the squad after his assistant Eder Sarabia was recorded launching into a number of foul-mouthed rants against his own players during the game against Madrid, even if there were chants in support of Sarabia before kick-off.
“When the club is in a moment of weakness, these kinds of things come out,” said Gerard Pique. “It’s normal for an assistant coach, with the adrenaline high, to express himself. We see it as normal.”
Eibar 1 Real Mallorca 2
Atletico Madrid 2 Sevilla 2
Barcelona 1 Real Sociedad 0
Getafe 0 Celta Vigo 0