Gerard Pique lamented another Barcelona defeat admitting: ‘We could play for three hours and still not score’.
Barcelona dropped to ninth, five points behind Atletico Madrid having played one match less. They were bold, but blunt in attack and so left pointless from the Wanda Metropolitano.
Explaining his first half argument with Sergio Busquets after Luis Suarez scored Atletico’s second goal, Pique said: ‘We had spoken about when [Thomas] Lemar lays the ball off and Joao Felix runs forward they outnumber you and someone has to follow him. But this is the nervousness that comes in these situations.’
Pique tried to put on a brave face and look to game coming up after the international break. ‘This is the result we didn’t want but we have to rest now in the break and come back strong,’ he said.
‘We were brave but they scored from very little. All we can do is to keep fighting.
‘The two goals are very similar in that they come at us with numerical superiority.
‘We don’t have just one problem. Anyone can see what we are missing. These are hard times but the spirit in the dressing room is good and there is a lot of desire to turn this around.’
Asked about the constant speculation about the coach’s future Pique added: ‘ The players can’t do anything about all the noise around the coach and the president.’
When Suarez spoke post match he denied his phone-call celebration had been aimed at Koeman.
He said: ‘If he wants to take it that way then so be it but it was for the people who have my number and who should know they can keep calling me because it hasn’t changed.’
Asked why he had not celebrated he added: ‘I knew I would apologise if I scored. I’m just another Barça fan and it was for all my [former] team-mates who are going through a tough time.’