Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has refused to point the finger at Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the disappointing 4-3 defeat at Celta Vigo despite the keeper being at fault in two of the goals conceded. Yet, the boss has said that he is eventually the first one to blame after his side missed a golden chance to move top on La Liga table, as Real Madrid only got a point in his home game against Eibar.
The La Liga giants went into half-time 3-0 down but Gerard Pique's header and Neymar's penalty earlier in the second half gave them hope to secure at least a draw. However, Ter Stegen, who had already been at fault first goal, made a calamitous mistake when trying to play the ball out from the back to let Pablo Hernandez to open the gap once again by scoring the 4-2.
Gerard Pique then cut the deficit back in the dying minutes of the game but his impressive brace was hopeless as the Catalans fell down to the fourth position of La Liga table, behind all Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Sevilla.
The German international made an apology to the Barcelona fans and teammates after the game, having admitted the "error should never occur" but Luis Enrique refused to single out him.
"Barcelona goalkeeper has to take risks and when he does and error we are not going to kill him," the boss said to Movistar + after the game. "I'm not going to talk about individual errors. The goalkeeper is key for us. He serves to create superiority in terms of keeping the ball and bringing it out. It's easy to criticise and say that maybe he could have taken on less of a risk, but everything's easier in hindsight. Everyone has lost."
"There are many reasons to explain the defeat. I'm the first person responsible for this defeat. I am the manager. We all lose and we all win, but when we lose I'm culpable first, the first who has to improve. Celta have played really well, with a lot of intensity, especially in the first-half and we were below the par.
Many in Spain eventually singled out Luis Enrique for deciding to rest both Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta from the starting line-up, deploying Arda Turan and Andre Gomes instead. The captain came on in the second-half to lead Barcelona's attempts to comeback.
But asked whether he regretted his decision to drop Iniesta from his line-up, Luis Enrique said: "Do not make that easy question now. After the game everything looks very easy. I am the manager and have to make the decisions before the games. After the games it makes no sense to discuss about it."
Yet, Luis Enrique believes Barcelona's first-half performance was unacceptable, admitting that the 3-0 result was eventually fair.
"We didn't win any of our individual battles in the first half. We didn't attack into space, we weren't well-positioned, we didn't have control of the game and we didn't play with any fluidity. We went into half-time with a 3-0 down that I believe it was fair," the Barcelona boss said.
"We were more precise in the second half, we anticipated things better and were more accurate with the ball. But it's clear that the fourth goal killed us. But given how the game was going, it didn't surprise me, either. The third was an own goal and I can't even tell you about the fourth."