Barcelona's 4-0 defeat at Liverpool is no dopubt still hunting the team, but above all, captain Lionel Messi still wants manager Ernesto Valverde to stay on.
The Argentine was chosen to speak in the pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Valencia in Seville, but most of the questions revolved around Anfield and the future of his coach.
Asked if he wanted Valverde to continue, Messi said: “Yes. I would like him to stay. All of this time he has been here, whether you like how we play or not, we have the chance to do another double (having already won La Liga).
“The stain on the season is very big, but in these two years we have only lost two (important) games. It’s true that those defeats left a mark on us, but the rest was good.”
The 31-year-old, who was appearing in his first press conference for Barca since 2015, also absolved his coach of the blame for the 4-0 defeat in Liverpool which saw Barca crash out in the Champions League semi-finals, having won the first game 3-0 at Camp Nou.
“I heard and have been told about the criticism the boss has received,” he said. “But I believe he has done an impressive job: I think he can’t have practically any of the blame for that elimination. We are the ones responsible.
“It was shameful the match that we played, the image we left. For it to happen two years in a row, when we are on the verge of a Champions League final.
"The truth is, we shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. We were playing to be in the final. He will have part of the blame, like all of us, but we are the ones who are most responsible.”
The Liverpool loss was almost a carbon copy of Barca’s Champions League exit away to Roma last season, when the Catalans took a 4-1 lead to the Stadio Olimpico but went down 3-0 on the night and crashed out on away goals.