Barcelona: Barcelona boss Luis Enrique insists his final season in charge can still end in glory despite bowing out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage to Juventus.
Juventus held onto their 3-0 first leg lead to progress to the last four by blunting Barca’s star-studded attack in a 0-0 draw yesterday. Neymar left the field in tears, but around the Camp Nou there was appreciation for Barca’s valiant effort by the near 100,000 crowd.
“It’s a sad night, but we tried until the last minute and that was recognised by the fans at the end,” said Enrique, who will step down at the end of the campaign. “This is (a) team that never gives up, that fights for every title, doesn’t relax and always accepts the challenge. It is a joy to belong to a club like this.”
Barca travel to face eternal rivals Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday realistically needing to win to maintain their hopes of a third straight La Liga title. Madrid lead by three points at the top of the table, but also have a game in hand.
“Barca have a team built to compete, to win trophies and to face every challenge. It is clear we are very hurt to be eliminated from a competition that excites us so much, but now comes a key game against the leaders and a direct rival. We have to get ready to compete and I am sure we will do that.”
Barca will be without Neymar at the Bernabeu through suspension and the Catalans will need Lionel Messi back in top form as the Argentine was off target with the only two clear chances the hosts created yesterday.
“We had 13 or 14 shots, but I think only one was on target, which are the ones that tend to do damage,” added Enrique. It may be recalled that Barca had overcome a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 with a dramatic 6-1 win back on home soil.
In Monaco, teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe scored again to set Monaco on their way to a 3-1 second-leg victory over Borussia Dortmund that allowed them to win their Champions League quarter-final 6-3 on aggregate. Radamel Falcao also netted for the home side in a whirlwind start at the Stade Louis II yesterday, and Dortmund were left with too much to do to save the tie.
Their skipper Marco Reus pulled a goal back early in the second half but Valere Germain came off the bench to put the seal on a famous win for a brilliant young Monaco side, who go through to the last four for the first time since 2004.