Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has blamed his team's early mistakes and the poor accuracy "over the final metres" for a 2-1 defeat to nine-man Athletic Club Bilbao in the first leg of the club's Copa del Rey last 16 tie. However the Spanish boss expects the Catalans to reverse the situation at the Nou Camp, as he feels his team was good enough to have taken a draw from San Mames on Thursday night (5 January).
Last season's Copa del Rey winners conceded two early goals in three minutes to set up a poor start to the game. But Lionel Messi reduced the gap in the 52nd minute, and Barcelona had numerous chances to core a second following the dismissals of Raul Garcia and Ander Iturraspe.
"The goal has given us a lot of oxygen, although we deserved to equalise from all the chances we created. But we were missing accuracy over the final metres," Luis Enrique admitted in a press conference at San Mames. "The return leg won't be easy. We have to make sure we don't concede at home and have to score ourselves."
The Barcelona boss admitted his side were surprised by the high-press of Athletic during the first 45 minutes, as the Basque side went into half-time with a 2-0 advantage.
"We struggled early on, and they made the most of two poor clearances from us. Two quick turnovers, and high pressure actions once they had the ball [saw them] move two goals up," Luis Enrique added. "It was the worst possible scenario but we managed to gain control after the break. The second half was an example of what we need to do as a team"
"Athletic stayed loyal to their methods. It was high-pressure football and they always know how to cause problems."
However, the Barcelona manager hailed his side's responsein the second half, with the Messi goal possibly being crucial for their chances of still qualifying for the quarter-finals.
"In the first half, we managed to get into their area without creating any clear-cut chances. And the half couldn't have ended worse with us getting all those cards," he said. "The mood changed in the second half, we deserved a lot more, whether or not we were playing against nine men.
"Athletic make you change the way you bring the ball out of defence. You need to find such solutions to deal with games like these. Athletic put so much pressure on you that you need to limit the number of passes, make sure you're well-positioned and play with intensity."