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Valverde: ‘I Can’t Criticise My Players For Anything’.

Ernesto Valverde admits Barcelona’s 3-0 defeat to Roma ‘is a big blow for us mentally’ but insists ‘I can’t criticise my players for anything’.

Barca’s performance during Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg was widely considered to be their worst of the season, while Valverde came under fire for not making any substitutions until the final 15 minutes.

“We can only keep our heads up because there’s no other way,” the Coach said after his side’s elimination.

“They had a great game, they overcame us and we have to congratulate them. We weren’t able to play our game and the dressing room has been very affected, although it’s normal after a defeat like this.

“We have to recover because we’re still in two competitions, which we want to win. Everything went well for them and we were never able to get into the game.

“They took us out of our comfort zone, they took us to where they wanted to be and we were never comfortable.

“We were very excited and I know that our fans were as well. We’re especially sorry for them and the disappointment.

“That’s football and I can’t criticise my players for anything. They deserve a lot of credit and we weren’t as good as we usually are. We have to give them credit.

“Do I feel responsible? Absolutely, the Coach is responsible for everything. I’m the one who picked the team, made changes, prepared us for the tie… Everything. He’s the visible head of the team.

“Analyses after defeats like these are always excessive. What’s clear is that they had a good match and played how they wanted, while we had many difficulties.

“I hope it doesn’t affect the team going forward. It’s a big blow for us mentally, but we have some beautiful objectives and we’ll see if we can achieve them. Winning a trophy is difficult.

“We know what it means to everyone connected to the club, ourselves included, because the semi-finals crossed our minds and it’s no longer a possibility, but that’s football.

“Sometimes you’re smiled at, sometimes you aren’t. We all have a dream when a tournament begins, but only one team can win it.

“The rest stay on their way. We’ve had to stay on ours in an unexpected way, but we have to move forward.”

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