Ernesto Valverde has apologized to Barcelona fans after his side were sensationally dumped out of the Champions League on Tuesday by a magnificent Roma, who ran out deserved 3-0 victors at the Stadio Olimpico to progress through to the semifinals on away goals.
The La Liga giants traveled to Rome as heavy favorites having comfortably beaten I Giallorossi 4-1 in the first leg. They got off to the worst of starts, however, when Edin Dzeko opened the scoring for the hosts in just the 6th minute.
Barcelona were struggling to get any foothold in the game and doubt quickly spiraled into fear when Roma’s Daniele de Rossi clawed another goal back from the penalty spot. Their capitulation climaxed minutes from time, when Kostas Manolas’ late header condemned the Blaugrana to their third consecutive Champions League quarterfinal exit.
Following the shock exit, Valverde has apologized to the Barcelona faithful for the “painful defeat” which he has claimed full responsibility for.
“We had no response, everything went for them and for us we struggled to build our play,” Valverde admitted in his post-match press conference, as quoted by Marca.
“I am responsible absolutely, I am the visible head of the team and it was down to me. With their pressure it forced us to knock balls long, we became disjointed and we were not able to win the second ball.
Being knocked out of the Champions League is a very tough blow for all Barça fans. But it is now when the supporters, coaches and players have to be more united than ever
— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) April 10, 2018
“When you lose and the opposition are better then the analysis is often extreme. They [Roma] were strong, physical and we had a lot of problems.
“Seasons are long and to win a competition is not easy, with only one winning. We know how disappointing this will be for the fans and us, we wanted to play a semifinal, this is football.
“Everyone is now affected by this but we need to bounce back because we have two competitions that we want to win,” he continued.
“It is a painful defeat it is true. We all wanted to win the competition but only one can win. We did not make it but we have to keep going, there is nothing else we can do. There will be difficult games ahead but we will concentrate on winning what we can still do as so far we have won nothing.
“I hope it will not affect us but this is clearly a blow. We have important targets ahead and we will see if we can do it.”
Barcelona will now turn their attention to La Liga and the Copa del Rey. The Catalan giants are 11 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid in the title race which is all but over. They’re also set to face Sevilla in the final of the Copa del Rey on Saturday April 21.
Roma, on the other hand, have joined Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal draw which is due to take place on Friday.