MADRID - Barcelona have
uncharacteristically surrendered the lead in their two most
recent matches and club captain Xavi wants more intensity from
the side at home to Osasuna on Saturday.
The Spanish and European champions gave up a two-goal
advantage to draw 2-2 at Real Sociedad in La Liga last weekend,
before conceding a stoppage-time equaliser at home to AC Milan
in a 2-2 draw in Tuesday's Champions League Group D game.
Spain playmaker Xavi admitted the team had taken their foot
off the gas in the second half at Sociedad, but insisted that
Milan's last-gasp goal had been "totally unfair".
"It's pretty clear that we could have done without the first
and last thirty seconds of the game," the 31-year-old told
Barca's TV channel, after Alexandre Pato had given Milan the
lead 24 seconds into the match and Thiago Silva netted a
"But sometimes football is unjust like that, and this time
we were on the receiving end," he added. "The team is a bit
down, we can't explain it but we have to carry on.
"We're playing good football, but we have to play with more
intensity at certain times."
Barca's night was further soured on Tuesday when midfielder
Andres Iniesta was forced off shortly before half-time with a
hamstring tear that will sideline him for around a month.
The Spain international, who has been plagued with leg
muscle injuries in recent years and almost missed last year's
World Cup, joins Chilean forward, new signing Alexis Sanchez and
central defender Gerard Pique on the injury list.
Barca's great rivals Real Madrid are bidding to end the
Catalan club's three-year grip on the Spanish title and top the
standings after two matches, a 6-0 demolition of Real Zaragoza
and a 4-2 win over city neighbours Getafe.
Jose Mourinho's side play at Levante on Sunday with a
question mark hanging over the availability of Portuguese
forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo needed several stitches in his right ankle after
Wednesday's 1-0 Champions League win at Dinamo Zagreb and
complained after the match he and other top players did not get
enough protection from referees.
"It's worrying to see Cristiano Ronaldo receiving stitches
in the dressing room," assitant coach Aitor Karanka, standing in
for the banned Mourinho, said at a news conference. "All players
should be equally protected."
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