Xavi said there “can’t be any excuse” for Barcelona’s humbly 2-1 defeat to Rayo Vallecano, which saw the Blaugrana miss out on a 14-point lead over La Liga leaders.
Barca seem destined to end their four-year wait for a league title in the coming weeks and Real Madrid’s 4-2 loss to Girona on Tuesday gave them the opportunity to take the lead.
However, goals from Alvaro Garcia and Fran Garcia gave Rayo a well-deserved victory, and a late shot from Robert Lewandowski was only a consolation.
Barça have only lost three games all season, but the Blue Garnet have now collected just five of their last 12 points available in La Liga, leaving Xavi to regret the missed opportunity.
“We didn’t have a good game, we were uncomfortable. They were very tense and aggressive and didn’t let us play,” Xavi said.
“We lacked understanding of the game, we abused long passes. No excuses, Rayo deserved to win.
“We courageously tried to the end, but they deserved to win. We have an advantage and there is one less game left.
“We have to think about Saturday. The message to the players is that the league has not yet been won. Winning this league is expensive and every away game is a war.
“This defeat weighs us down and annoys us. Today we failed and we leave irritated because it was a very good opportunity.”
4 – Andoni Iraola became the sixth manager not to lose in his first four games against #Bars V #La Liga (3V 1E), the first since Javier Clemente in 1983 (2V 2E). Talent. pic.twitter.com/K4CNnx12rx
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 26, 2023
After losing on their last matchday to Rayo in October 2021, Barça were defeated by Vallecas in a row for only the second time in their history, also in December 2002.
Defender Ronald Araujo believed the hosts deserved their win, saying, “Rayo deserved the win. They played well.
“In the first half we weren’t up to par, but we still have a good lead on points. Now we have two home games to win.”
Barça welcome Real Betis at the Camp Nou in their next match on Saturday, 11 points ahead of Madrid and requiring a maximum of 11 points more to clinch the title.