‘I’m sure they will have it in their minds’: Barcelona boss Quique Setien admits his players are still haunted by Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool as they return to knockout action against Napoli
- Barcelona head to Napoli for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16, first leg tie
- They have exited the competition in humbling circumstances in last two years
- They blew a 4-1 lead against Roma in 2018 and a 3-0 lead against Liverpool
- Manager Quique Setien admits that his players are still haunted by experience
The Catalan club have exited Europe in humiliating circumstances in each of the past two seasons after throwing away substantial first leg leads.
They led Roma 4-1 after the first leg of the 2017-2018 quarter-finals, only to lose 3-0 in Italy to go out on away goals.
Barcelona manager Quique Setien is preparing his team for Tuesday’s meeting with Napoli
Lionel Messi juggles with the ball as Barcelona train at the Stadio San Paolo on Monday night
And worse followed in last season’s semi-finals when they blew a 3-0 first leg lead to lose 4-0 to eventual champions Liverpool at Anfield.
Setien, who is preparing to take charge of his first Champions League match as Barcelona manager, away to Napoli on Tuesday evening, admits the defeats still prey on the minds of the players.
‘The reality is that we’ve spoken very little about [the Roma and Liverpool defeats], although I’m sure they’ll have it in their minds,’ Setien said.
‘Maybe it’s not comparable. We’ve experienced incredibly tough games and I think the team is fine.
Kostas Manolas scores the decisive goal in Roma’s comeback to beat Barcelona in 2018
Messi reflects with dismay after Barcelona threw away a 4-1 first leg lead to lose to Roma
‘The team is confident that we’ll continue in this dynamic, I trust that we’ll maintain the level that we’ve been giving for some time.’
Barcelona return to European action buoyed by their situation domestically, having established a two-point lead over rivals Real Madrid at the top of the LaLiga table last weekend.
Setien has won seven and lost two of his nine matches in charge to date but a tough week lies ahead with the Napoli game swiftly followed by the Clasico with Real Madrid on Sunday.
Liverpool mounted a comeback from 3-0 down after the first leg to dump Barcelona out
Messi reflects on another missed Champions League opportunity after the loss to Liverpool
‘There’s no doubt that it’s my first match in the Champions League and it’s a motivation,’ Setien added.
‘It’s exciting for me to start this journey at a stadium like this, which is full of passion and history.
‘I think it’s going to be a passionate game. There’s no better place to start.’