Ernesto Valverde doesn’t blame Barcelona’s defenders for Levante defeat

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Ernesto Valverde refused to blame his defenders despite Barcelona’s chances of becoming the first team to post an unbeaten LaLiga season coming to an end with astonishing 5-4 defeat by Levante.

The hosts stormed into a 5-1 lead 11 minutes into the second half, with Barca’s centre-back pairing of Thomas Vermaelen and Yerry Mina in disarray.

Ghanaian Emmanuel Boateng plundered a hat-trick and Enis Bardhi struck twice before Phillippe Coutinho inspired a fightback by helping himself to three goals, with Luis Suarez claiming the fourth from the spot.

“We haven’t been solid, every time they attacked they scored,” Valverde said in quotes reported by Marca.

“It’s not normal for us to concede five goals. Levante have played well with freedom and we haven’t been able to control them.

“We went to sleep, thinking we could automatically lift our performance in the second half.

“Yerry Mina showed personality at certain moments of the match and I haven’t seen him make a mistake, you have to take into account how good our opponent was.”

Valverde said Belgian Vermaelen had been struggling with an injury, adding: “I substituted Vermaelen because I didn’t want him to be at even further risk.”

Skipper Andres Iniesta blamed a lack of organisation.

“We were excited by the prospect of finishing the season unbeaten,” he said.

“It’s not the most important thing this season – it just wasn’t to be.

“Above all, it was the tension and lack of organisation. This was especially clear at the beginning of the second half.

“They’ve been very effective on the counter-attack and have caught us out.”

The season-ending game against Real Sociedad will be the 34-year-old’s last as a Barcelona player.

“With every moment that it approaches, everything becomes that little bit more difficult,” the midfielder added.

“I will try to savour it, it’s the last game of the season and the fans will respond to support the team.

“I hope it will be a nice memory for me after so long.”

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