Barca need to buck up in Cup after stalemate

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez's attempt being thwarted by Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez. Both he and Lionel Messi hit the woodwork in the 0-0 draw and will need to be sharper in both legs of the teams' King's Cup clash.
Barcelona forward Luis Suarez's attempt being thwarted by Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez. Both he and Lionel Messi hit the woodwork in the 0-0 draw and will need to be sharper in both legs of the teams' King's Cup clash. PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Luis Enrique hopes Barcelona will have learnt a footballing lesson from Saturday's frustrating 0-0 Spanish La Liga draw with local rivals Espanyol by the time they meet again in the King's Cup in midweek.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hit the woodwork either side of half-time, as the European champions drew a blank for the first time in the league this season.

But it was the third time in four league games that Barcelona dropped points, allowing Atletico to displace them at the top of the table after a 1-0 win over Levante.

"It is difficult when a team plays on the limit in terms of intensity. It was the kind of game we expected and they pressed very well, especially at the start of the game," said Enrique.

"We started very well in the second half when we played at a different tempo. We created chances and on these type of days when you are finding it more difficult you can't afford to miss them."

Holders Barcelona play host in the first of two legs between the sides in the last 16 of the Cup on Wednesday.

"Of course it conditions (the upcoming games). At the Camp Nou we are going to try and play at the same intensity and overcome them," he added. "It is an attractive game and we are playing against a side that did very well today."

A first point in eight matches against Barcelona was further evidence of 12th-placed Espanyol's upturn in fortunes since Constantin Galca replaced Sergio Gonzalez as head coach last month.

The Romanian hailed the effort of his players, and is confident they will be fresh enough from Spanish football's curtailed 10-day winter break to show the same energy levels again on Wednesday.

"Barcelona had some clear chances, they started very well in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but we stayed together and played to our strengths," he said. "Physically they ran a lot, but they are professionals. They will recover and be ready for the next game."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'Barca need to buck up in Cup after stalemate'. Print Edition | Subscribe