Ronald Koeman lamented Barcelona’s threadbare squad as his team went down 3-0 to Bayern Munich.
‘I only had three forwards to pick from,’ said the Dutch coach who finished with four teenagers on the pitch.
‘Of course we would have liked to compete better but there is a difference in their quality as a team [and ours]. There was a big difference between the benches too. We have lots of players with a big future but right now we need players back from injury.’
Koeman added: ‘We started well but we had problems getting forward. We were unlucky with the first goal and from their second goal it was very difficult. Right now they are a better team than us.
‘This is where we are right now. Jordi Alba was ill last night and still played. This was Luuk De Jong’s first game. Alba was very tired and we didn’t want to risk him playing the whole game.’
Gerard Pique also put a brave face on after another heavy Barcelona defeat to Bayern saying the team could still compete in Europe when injured players return.
‘We competed in the first half and their goal comes from a deflection,’ said the Barça captain after the 3-0 loss.
‘The team did not hide and we had young players making their debuts in the Champions League. I feel sure we will end up competing. We have Ansu (Fati), Ousmane (Dembele) and Kun (Aguero) still to come back from injury. We are clearly not among the favourites for the Champions right now.’
Pique also defended team-mate Sergio Roberto who was whistled by home spectators when he was taken off in the second half. He said: ‘I wish people would remember that Sergio Roberto is not a full-back and it’s a sacrifice when he plays there. People are free to give their opinion but personally it hurts me when there is so much whistling.’
A ‘Koeman Out’ banner was displayed before kick-off but removed by club staff. The former Everton manager’s job was called into question in the summer when Barcelona president Joan Laporta admitted he was looking at potential replacements.
Just last week a leak from the club suggested Koeman had been offered a contract extention but loaded with conditions about the way the team plays, the players selected and the level of success enjoyed.
A lack of alternatives, and money to pay Koeman off, is likely to keep him in a job. Laporta does not believe this is the right time to put Xavi in charge. He was interested in Julian Nagelsmann earlier this year and the now-Bayern coach certainly left his mark at the Camp Nou.